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Idaho AG: McGeachin's event at elementary school not legal violation

Janice McGeachin
Posted at 4:05 PM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 20:12:43-04

BOISE, Idaho — Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin's event at Ammon Elementary is not considered a legal violation, but could "violate the spirit of the Public Integrity in Elections Act."

McGeachin held the event on Oct. 15 at the elementary school where she defended her decision to refuse the release of public records pertaining to her education task force, the Associated Press reports. During the event, she criticized the Idaho Attorney General's Office and local media over coverage of the lawsuit against her.

The Public Integrity in Elections Act was passed by the Idaho legislature in 2018 and states "Neither a public entity nor any of its employees shall use, nor shall a public official authorize or use, public property or resources to advocate for or against a candidate or a ballot measure."

Related: Press club drops contempt request against Idaho Lt. Gov.

McGeachin's attorney, Art Macomber, who is running for attorney general, talked about running for the position and what he would do if he was attorney general. That led to speculation that the state statute could have been violated.

Idaho News 6 reached out to the Idaho Office of The Attorney General about the statute and the possible violation. Scott Graf, a spokesperson for the AG's office, said in a statement the event was not a legal violation.

“The Office of the Attorney General has closely reviewed Chapter 6 of Title 74. Although a candidate for office advocated for his election, it does not appear that a public official or public entity authorized the use of public resources or property for the purpose of advocating for a candidate. While this conduct may violate the spirit of the Public Integrity in Elections Act, it does not violate the letter of the law. If the legislature wishes to amend the statute and address this type of scenario in the future, our office is ready and willing to assist.”

Scott Graf, Office of the Attorney General spokesman

The Attorney General's Office response indicated two things would have to happen for a violation to occur at last week's event. The lt. governor would have to have requested the use of the school, which is public property, with the purpose of advocating for either herself or her attorney for public office.

While the state statute was not violated by McGeachin or her attorney, in an email obtained by Idaho News 6, the school administration say they were surprised by the event and a parent had requested use of the facilities but did not disclose why.

"With political activities, we certainly allow those uses of our facilities after school hours when they're not a disruption to school. But we do ask that anybody who would like to use our facilities, including the lieutenant governor, would please contact the school principal or the district office to make the appropriate arrangements to use those," Bonneville School District Superintendent Scott Woolstenhulme said.