Our View: Sen. Mike Crapo's campaign loan scandal calls for further disclosure

May 19, 2013 

The Sen. Mike Crapo public file over the past six months is certainly a mixed bag of good, bad and "say what?"

After more than two decades of serving admirably loyal constituencies that elected him to the Idaho Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and three terms in the U.S. Senate, he has had two nasty episodes of "cleanup on aisle Crapo."

While trying to function as a member of the Gang of Six and reach a budget deal with President Barack Obama amid the hyper-partisan atmosphere of late 2012, Crapo became "a short-time drinker," his communications director, Lindsay Nothern, said during a Friday interview.

Crapo got a DUI last December, a common but still serious offense that demonstrates disregard for others. We credit him for owning up to it, pleading guilty, applying some self-examination and attempting to get back to serving as our senator.

Then we recently learned that a Crapo campaign staffer in 2008 squandered $250,000 in campaign money by losing it to some get-rich-quick scheme originating in Boise and ending badly in Las Vegas. All that happened unbeknownst to Crapo until late 2010, according to Nothern, when the campaign operative, Jake Ball, happened to mention something about it as he was leaving to become district director for newly elected Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho.

Until then, Crapo "didn't know because he wasn't told." The senator, who serves on the Banking and Finance committees, had trusted Ball to make investments to enhance his more than $3 million campaign war chest in the past. In fact, Ball had turned a tidy $320,000 profit doing so during his service to Crapo from 2006 to 2010.

Ball, who resigned from Labrador's staff when the "Blueberry Guru/Pyramid Global Resources " scam came to public light earlier this month, had served Crapo on both his official and campaign staffs.

Faced with another embarrassing turn of events, Crapo came clean again. Nothern noted that Crapo could have kept quiet until law enforcement and Federal Election Commission officials had finished their investigations.

There is a third thing that the Crapo people are coming clean on and a fourth thing that he and Labrador need to air.

The third acknowledgement is the damage to Crapo's reputation for these mostly self-inflicted wounds.

"It is a cumulative thing," Nothern said. "He feels badly about this incident (the squandering of $250,000 campaign money, and another $35,000 in efforts to recover it) and the events over the holidays (the DUI)."

The fourth, and as yet unspoken acknowledgement, is yet to be made. The Crapo campaign has said here that it learned of the $250,000 problem just as Ball was starting his new job with Labrador. Did Crapo ever think it would have been a good idea to tell Labrador about the Ball investment mishap - you know, as one member of the Republican congressional delegation to another?

Nothern said the official word from Crapo is that it was never discussed.

Ball acknowledged that he made a bad investment. We believe Crapo could use some of his Tele-Townhall time at 7 p.m. Wednesday to further explain what has been going on recently and why he never thought to mention to Labrador about Blueberry Guru.

"Mistakes have happened," Nothern said in conclusion. "It is what you do after the mistakes that is the key to the individual."

We will be watching.

"Our View" is the editorial position of the Idaho Statesman. It is an unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman's editorial board. To comment or suggest a topic, e-mail editorial@idahostatesman.com.

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service