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Questions Arise Over Ada Co. GOP Campaign Finance Reports

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The Ada County Republican Central Committee may have made an illegal payment to its chairman without a permanent treasurer to sign off on the party’s campaign finance records.

Idaho law requires political parties to have a designated treasurer. Without one, they are legally barred from accepting donations or making expenditures. The penalty for violating this law is a civil fine of up to $250 for an individual or up to $2,500 for an organization.

Justin Collins stepped down as the party’s treasurer March 31. In his resignation letter obtained by Boise State Public Radio, Collins said, “My personal and professional life have recently consumed more resources and time than expected.”

The Ada County Republican Central Committee’s campaign finance report for April – filed more than a month after Collins resigned – shows the party paying its chairman, Ryan Davidson, $30 for “general expenses” on April 15. Davidson is also running to become an Ada County Commissioner.

Three officials within the Ada County Republican Central Committee, who spoke with Boise State Public Radio, confirmed there hasn’t been an election to replace Collins. Precinct committeemen are required to vote on candidates for an executive board position, like treasurer.

“Neither county or state party rules were written to deal with emergency situations, such as a pandemic, where large gatherings are banned” under Gov. Brad Little’s stay-at-home order, Davidson wrote in an email.  

“Because of this I took the executive action which was most reasonable under the circumstances, which was to appoint an interim Treasurer to file our required reports with the state.”

No paperwork had been filed with the Secretary of State’s office naming a treasurer for the committee as of Sunday afternoon.

Davidson said the committee would vote in a permanent treasurer at its next meeting in mid-June.

In the meantime, he said he appointed Vicky McIntyre, the former Ada County County Treasurer to fill the role. McIntyre has served in this position for the party for many years in the past. She pleaded guilty to misusing public money last year.

“All of her past Treasurer work for the party has been impeccable, and there was no one more qualified to step in on an interim basis while we get through this transition,” Davidson said.

The $30 payment was for office supplies he said he mistakenly purchased using the party’s credit card through Facebook. He said he’s since repaid the money.

No donations to the committee were reported during April.

“I hadn’t heard it in any way until you just brought it up,” Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck said in a phone interview Friday.

If a report had been filed by the committee without having a designated treasurer “…then we would likely forward that information to the attorney general,” Houck said.

The Ada County Republican Central Committee’s campaign finance documents have also been altered multiple times over the past week.

Collins’ name and electronic signatures had been erased from all four finance reports filed this year when downloaded by Boise State Public Radio on May 26.

They’ve since been restored, but each version was still listed as an “original” report instead of indicating it had been amended.

Last week, Houck said that his office no longer requires candidates or political parties to send them scanned financial reports. Instead, that information is all entered online through their new web portal that went live earlier this year.

The changes made to these reports, he said, could simply come down to how the database was set up. Using an account that was associated with a treasurer who has since resigned could inadvertently fill in that person’s name and signature automatically, Houck said.

“It would be unfair to say that it was their fault.”

The office is currently investigating how these changes to the reports were made.

Changes made to contribution or expenditure amounts within a report, Houck said, automatically trigger it to be classified as amended.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.

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