Idaho’s Janice McGeachin rails against media, says she’s been ‘doxxed’ after court loss

Sarah A. Miller/smiller@idahostatesman.com
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Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin on Wednesday reiterated a request that taxpayers fund her legal fees after her office refused to release complete public records to reporters.

The Idaho Press Club won a lawsuit in July that sought the release of records regarding McGeachin’s education task force, which was looking for indoctrination in Idaho schools. The Idaho Press Club sought a Google Forms survey that McGeachin circulated earlier in the year soliciting public feedback, as well as additional records.

McGeachin’s office initially told reporters that redacting the records would cost anywhere from $560 to $1,500, and provided the records to the Idaho Capital Sun with comments redacted. McGeachin later released unredacted records to reporters after a judge ordered her to do so.

In a Wednesday budget presentation before the Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, McGeachin railed against the media.

The gubernatorial candidate said she’s been “doxxed” — when someone maliciously publishes private or identifying information about someone on the internet. Photos and addresses of the businesses McGeachin owns were published on the internet, she said, which led to “angry people” contacting her children and employees.

“It’s not a pleasant experience, and our whole effort was to protect the identity of the Idahoans who were submitting these comments,” McGeachin said.

McGeachin requested $29,000 “due to unforeseen legal bills related to a lawsuit from the Idaho Press Club after the Attorney General’s Office failed to properly represent” her. If approved, the appropriation would come out of the state’s general fund, which is funded primarily by income, sales and corporate tax collections.

McGeachin’s office originally requested $50,000 from the general fund but later reduced the budget request after receiving a bill from the Idaho Press Club’s attorney for $28,974. The Lieutenant Governor’s total budget is $183,100. McGeachin has said she may have to cut staff if the legal fees are pulled from that budget.

McGeachin blames attorney general for court loss

The lieutenant governor blamed Attorney General Lawrence Wasden for her legal defeat after his agency recommended that McGeachin release the task force records. McGeachin then hired D. Colton Boyles, an attorney based in Sandpoint, to represent her in the lawsuit.

McGeachin said that she met with Wasden in October to ask that the $29,000 for the press club’s legal fees come out of his office’s budget.

“He was not agreeable to that,” McGeachin said.

In statement provided by a spokesperson Wednesday, Wasden said his office “provided clear guidance to release the records.”

“The lieutenant governor received that advice and then proceeded to independently hire her own attorney,” Wasden said. Once the lieutenant governor hired a private attorney, “the Office of the Attorney General did not participate, advise, or in any other way have a role in the choices made by the lieutenant governor.”

After hiring the private attorney, McGeachin incurred an unknown amount of personal legal fees. When Rep. Colin Nash, D-Boise, asked how the lieutenant governor plans to pay those fees — whether with her own funds or her office’s budget — McGeachin said her office recently received a bill from the Sandpoint attorney and is “auditing” it.

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