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Lt. Gov. McGeachin blasts media over reporting of legal issues

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AMMON — Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin issued a long list of grievances against Idaho’s media Thursday.

McGeachin, who is in her first-term as lieutenant governor, held a news conference at Ammon Elementary School to talk about a lawsuit between her and the Idaho Press Club. Most of the meeting focused on her complaints about media coverage.

“I know the media is very busy writing lies about me and my office,” she said at the conference.

RELATED: Idaho Press Club sues Lt. Gov. McGeachin over public records

The Idaho Press Club sued McGeachin in July after several journalists said she wrongly denied public record requests for materials relating to her Education Task Force.

The task force’s goal was investigating alleged “indoctrination” in the state’s public school system, something McGeachin said was necessary to “protect our young people from the scourge of critical race theory, socialism, communism and Marxism.”

“I was trying to protect parents, teachers, and students who were blowing whistles at some of the things that were happening in their communities. Whistleblowers should be protected,” McGeachin said. “Over the last five years, the press has doxxed and publicly shamed private individuals. People have had their lives upended because the media decided to shame them. My goal was never to withhold public comments from the press but to protect Idahoans from the media.”

Eventually, after the press club asked a judge to hold her in contempt, McGeachin released the records.

The Idaho Press Club then dropped its request that McGeachin be held in contempt in court. Click here for previous coverage.

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

McGeachin addressed the contempt motion during her news conference.

“The characterization of me being in contempt of court are factually inaccurate. No judge ever ordered me in contempt. Many publications however, framed me as being in contempt. This includes The Lewiston Tribune, KTVB, East Idaho News, The Idaho Statesman, the Associated Press, among others,” McGeachin said at the press conference.

The fact that McGeachin was never ordered in contempt of court is correct, however, it is incorrect that many of the media listed above framed her as being in contempt. The article run by EastIdahoNews.com, which was originally published in the Statesman, makes it clear that McGeachin was facing a contempt complaint, not that she had been found in contempt.

RELATED: McGeachin must release Idaho indoctrination task force records to public, judge rules

Art Macomber, McGeachin’s attorney, who is also running for Idaho Attorney General, was present at the press conference and spoke before McGeachin. His major issue was with legal advice given to McGeachin by the AG’s office.

“The lieutenant governor is a true conservative who fights the establishment even when the Republican Party and Republicans start acting like Democrats and taking away freedoms of Idahoans,” he said. “The establishment retaliated against the Lt. Gov. when the AG’s office gave her bad advice in the recent Idaho Press Club case. The AG’s office wasted approximately a month and a half with unfounded legal arguments in response to the public records request and then backed off and recommended she get a second opinion when the Idaho Press Club demanded the documents and a court case loomed on the horizon.”

Macomber said that the Attorney General’s Office should pay the nearly $30,000 in attorney fees.

“If the AG does not pay for its bad lawyering approximately 16 percent of the Lt. Gov.’s yearly budget will have to go to pay for the AG’s lack of integrity in defending their legal opinion. That is wrong,” he said.

Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported McGeachin requested an additional $50,000 in taxpayer money to cover what she called “unforeseen legal bills” related to the lawsuit.

“The press has continued to blatantly lie and say that I am asking Idahoans to pay legal bills. As a constitutional officer, I have a budget appropriated by the legislature. As you may be aware, my office is incredibly lean. Most months, I only have one full time employee. So to suggest that I am someone that takes advantage of the taxpayer, is a gross misrepresentation,” she said.

Following the press conference, the AG’s office issued a statement refuting and clarifying some of Macomber’s statements.

RELATED: McGeachin faces contempt of court complaint over refusal to release task force records

“The lawsuit, the lieutenant governor’s loss in court and the subsequent financial burden Idaho taxpayers now face all resulted from independent decisions made by the lieutenant governor in consultation with her chosen attorney after June 7, the statement reads. “This entire matter is an excellent demonstration of why government should seek legal counsel that it needs to hear instead of what it wants to hear.”

For the full Idaho Attorney General statement click here.

The Idaho Press Club also issued a lengthy statement Thursday laying the blame for the fees on McGeachin. “No fees, costs or fines would have been incurred had the lieutenant governor simply released the records when requested, as the law requires,” the statement reads.

For the full Idaho Press Club statement click here.

At the end of the press conference, McGeachin slapped her binder closed and said, “We could spend all day going over the media’s misrepresentations of myself, of my office, and my task force however, but we’ll end my corrections here.”

She walked away with Macomber taking no questions from the media. One reporter from KTVB repeatedly asked questions and McGeachin said, “I’ve already said I am not answering any questions, all of the documentation is right here as you can see.”

She pointed to her binder, and then suggested the media file a public records request for the information.

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