Idaho GOP candidate says Democratic lawmaker stole campaign fliers

Ryan McDonald, left, and Rep. John McCrostie.
Ryan McDonald, left, and Rep. John McCrostie.

A Boise man says he caught Democratic state Rep. John McCrostie stealing his campaign brochures while going door to door last week in Garden City.

And while Ryan McDonald said he filed a complaint with police, it’s not clear that a local law enforcement agency is looking at the matter.

McCrostie issued an apology late Friday, without directly admitting to taking the brochures. “I made a mistake and I apologize to my family, my supporters and the people of District 16,” McCrostie wrote. “I have worked diligently for my community for decades, and I pledge to hold myself to a higher standard.”

McDonald, a Republican campaigning for Democrat Grant Burgoyne’s Senate District 16 seat, said he had dropped off brochures Oct. 11 at a number of homes along Rivervista in Garden City when he spotted McCrostie, who represents one of the district’s House seats.

McDonald said he saw McCrostie removing brochures for McDonald and Joel Robinson, a Republican running against McCrostie in House District 16A, placed in plastic bags provided by GOP U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador and sticking them in his pockets.

McDonald, who faces Democratic incumbent Sen. Grant Burgoyne this fall, said he approached McCrostie and struck up a casual conversation before asking him if he ever removed Republicans’ handouts from people’s doors.

“Would I ever do that? No,” McCrostie answered, according to an audio recording provided by McDonald.

McDonald then introduced himself and told McCrostie he saw him with “Labrador stuff” and asked him if he wanted to “fess up.”

“It’s part of the game,” McCrostie, a first-term House member, said in the recording.

McDonald claims McCrostie returned the brochures, but they were too damaged for McDonald to use.

McCrostie declined to immediately talk about the incident with the Statesman. Later Friday, he released the brief written statement saying he regretted his actions.

Robinson, McCrostie’s GOP challenger, said he wasn’t too upset by what happened, but hopes McCrostie learned a lesson.

“I’m not going to jump up and down criticizing my opponent,” Robinson said. “I would just ask that people be polite and respectful.”

McDonald said he’s heard of supporters being accused of removing signs or taking brochures, but he said he was surprised to see a candidate do it.

“It’s one of those things where you never really expect it to happen to you, especially in my first time running,” McDonald said. “During this election we’ve heard so much about morals and how we need to do what’s right. It’s surprising that in an election cycle where we’re so worried about truth and honesty, we’re getting lies and theft.”

District 16, which encompasses Garden City and a portion of Northwest Boise, hasn’t elected a Republican since 2009.

McDonald told the Statesman he filed a complaint with the Garden City Police Department. Although there was some initial confusion about which agency was investigating, Garden City Police told the Associated Press it had received the complaint but could not make a report public on Friday because it wasn’t finished.

McDonald told the AP he received a call from Republican Secretary of State Lawerence Denney suggesting he contact House Speaker Scott Bedke to share concerns of a possible ethics violation. The Secretary of State’s Office said Denney was out of town Friday and no one else in the office had any information.

Burgoyne said he wasn’t aware of the allegations until a reporter called him Friday afternoon. He declined to comment on the incident, but said campaigns and brochures often come up missing.

“I’ve lost hundreds and hundreds of lawn signs over the years,” said Burgoyne, who served in the Idaho House from 2009 to 2014, when he was elected to the State Senate.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @IDS_Sowell