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JFAC punts on covering Lt. Gov. McGeachin's private legal bills

Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, right, shortly before greeting a crowd on the steps of the Idaho Capitol in Boise as she announces her bid for governor in 2022.
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, right, shortly before greeting a crowd on the steps of the Idaho Capitol in Boise as she announces her bid for governor in 2022.

The Idaho legislature’s budget-writing committee has declined to address an outstanding request to cover $29,000 in private legal fees for Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin – for now.

“We have now set all of the scheduled appropriations budgets,” said Sen. Jeff Agenbroad (R-Nampa), one of the co-chairs of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee.

McGeachin initially requested $50,000 to pay for those expenses last fall.

The Idaho Press Club successfully sued McGeachin last year after her office erroneously withheld public records from reporters related to her education indoctrination task force.

In the judge’s ruling, he said her office “acted in bad faith” and that the exemptions it cited were so irrelevant that her team “maybe have blindly selected them at random.”

She eventually released those records after the Idaho Press Club filed a motion to hold her in contempt of court.

Last fall, the lieutenant governor requested the money come out of the Idaho Attorney General’s budget, who had initially consulted with her over the public records requests. Attorney General Lawrence Wasden “was not agreeable to that” idea, according to McGeachin.

An email from the AG’s office on June 7, 2021, advised her to release the unredacted records or seek a second legal opinion.

Should her request not be approved, she told lawmakers she would have to cut staffing hours and limit constituent services.

McGeachin could cover the bill through her office, but just barely. She has about $40,000 left to spend before the fiscal year ends in June, though most of that is earmarked for salaries for herself and her chief of staff.

The Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee could meet again before the legislature adjourns for the year, but it would have to be approved by the chairmen.

“There are still a few things under consideration, but we do not have any scheduled meetings going forward,” Agenbroad said Friday.

Jordan Watters, McGeachin’s chief of staff, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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

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