Under criticism, militia group shares tally of donations for arrested Idahoans

Brandon Curtiss talks to reporters after arriving at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore, in January.
Brandon Curtiss talks to reporters after arriving at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore, in January. AP

The group 3% of Idaho says it provided more money for the four Idahoans accused of crimes in the 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff in Nevada than was collected through several fundraisers.

In a statement released Friday, the Meridian-based group said it spent a total of $4,900 for money deposited to the jail accounts of Scott Drexler, Eric Parker, Todd Engel and Steve Stewart.

That was more, the group said, than the $2,475 raised from the Freedom Fest benefit concert held in Twin Falls on July 9. The group said it also took in $1,064 in cash donations, $680 from clothing sales and $375 from a banner auction.

The payouts included $3,666 in phone and commissary deposits, $680 in bills paid for families of the prisoners, $255 in fundraising expenses and $300 paid to families for traveling to court hearings.

Thirty-six members of 3% of Idaho, many of them in leadership positions, resigned Tuesday after accusing group president Brandon Curtiss of misusing $2,475 gathered for the arrested Idahoans from Freedom Fest. Among other spending, they questioned purchases made from the PayPal account used to receive donations to the group through its website, such as $295 to an Indiana company that supplies aftermarket parts for diesel pickups.

3% of Idaho did not specify a time frame for the numbers provided Friday, nor did it release bank statements or other receipts for the spending. Bank and PayPal statements obtained by the Statesman found at least $1,563 disbursed to the four men since their March 3 arrest, including $429 the members who resigned said was the sole amount from the July benefit to be used for its intended purpose.

For its financial problems, 3% of Idaho continues to blame former vice president Johnathan Casey, who they say made $1,400 in unauthorized expenditures. Casey has denied any improper spending, saying all of his purchases between March and August were authorized by Curtiss and other 3% of Idaho officials.

A 3% of Idaho spokesman who has not provided his name to the Statesman this week, but uses an email account belonging to a Doug Price, said the focus should stay on spending by Casey.

“To some who have seen this, there are new questions as to who really was at fault and why the blame is completely on Mr. Curtiss,” the spokesman said in an email Friday.

He said people should be patient until an ongoing audit is completed soon.

“While this audit is nearly complete and ready for release it is important to remind the public and former members that the outrage is misguided and needs to stop until everything is out,” the spokesman said. “The continued onslaught of fingerpointing and accusations has not slowed. It has actually increased with demands being made by people who refuse to allow the audit process to be completed.”

The group has not identified the person or firm conducting the audit, only saying a bookkeeper was handling the inquiry. Typically, outside audits are conducted by a certified public accountant, who is bound by state regulations and ethical rules in carrying out an audit.

Curtiss, whose private businesses have also run into financial trouble, has not given any sort of public response to the Statesman this week on these new financial mismanagement allegations. But Friday morning, he spoke with KIDO radio host Kevin Miller, among other things saying the PayPal account is his personal one.

Curtiss said those who resigned his group this week have jumped to conclusions without seeing the full evidence. “Those aren’t members and people we want to be a part of our organization (and) associate with,” he told Miller.

You can listen to the full radio interview below:

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @IDS_Sowell