A spokesman for the Idaho Attorney General’s Office confirmed the investigation into the Integrity in Government PAC but declined to comment further. The confirmation came after the Post Register filed a public records request.
Eastern Idaho political commentators Jerry and Carrie Scheid confirmed Thursday that they submitted a report on the PAC that led to the investigation. The PAC has ties to Bonneville GOP Chairman Doyle Beck.
Taggart was a political consultant for many years in Idaho and Utah. He said he is “intimately familiar” with political fundraising in the region, as well as state and federal campaign finance law.
Taggart said he has no direct evidence that laws were violated with Integrity in Government PAC’s contributions, but he has seen “a lot of indicators of problems.”
“What I was seeing was contributions coming from different states, different localities, all in a really tight time frame. That’s not how it works.”
Taggart said one of the contributions that raised his eyebrows was a $12,000 donation from M.C. “Chick” Heileson.
During his 2012 primary challenge to Rep. Mike Simpson, Heileson was required to file a disclosure listing his income and assets. He reported that he and his wife had a total earned income of less than $30,000 in 2011, almost $14,000 of which came from Social Security. He reported no personal assets, though some types of assets such as homes and checking accounts of less than $5,000 don’t have to be reported. He also reported having a home equity loan of between $15,000 and $50,000.
Taggart wondered how Heileson could afford to make such a large contribution. Multiple attempts to reach Heileson were unsuccessful.
Integrity in Government came onto the scene during the 2014 primary. It raised virtually all of its money in one quick burst. The PAC raised less than $20,000 between March 1 and May 4, 2014. But Between May 5 and May 30, it raised $126,000, including several large donations in the $10,000 to $12,000 dollar range.
During that same period it dumped virtually all of that money into the GOP primary, largely to support challenges to GOP incumbents such as Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and Gov. Butch Otter.
Beck said he was unaware of the investigation. He said he was initially asked to be a member of Integrity in Government PAC’s board, but was never formally added to the board. He said he is unaware of any illegal contributions.