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Sen. Crapo says his campaign lost $250K on a bad loan to Idaho company

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo’s campaign is filing amended campaign finance reports for 2008 and 2009 to reflect an “investment loss” of $250,000 in the form of a bad loan to an Idaho company. “The loan was never repaid,” Crapo’s campaign said in a statement today, after a third party “absconded with the money.”

The $250,000 loan was made to an Idaho-based limited liability company called Blueberry Guru LLC. “According to Gavin McCaleb, the managing member of the company that invested the loan, Blueberry Guru handed the funds over to a third-party venture that absconded with the money,” the Crapo campaign said, adding that the senator was informed of the loss in late 2010. Since then, the statement said, the campaign has been working with legal representatives in Idaho and California, and voluntarily reported the matter to federal law enforcement. “Ultimately, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office indicated late last year that neither were in a position to pursue the matter further and the investigation was closed.”

The campaign said Crapo himself was not involved in the decision to make the loan, and learned of it only after the investment had gone bad. The campaign has retained a Washington, D.C. attorney to advise it on how to recover the money and how to report it to the FEC; attorney Stephen Ryan advised that recovery is unlikely. “Although the campaign reviewed many avenues to retrieve the money, those efforts have been unsuccessful,” Ryan said, “and it is necessary and appropriate to file amended campaign reports for the time period involved now that this conclusion has been reached.”

The Associated Press reported this morning that the loan was approved by former Crapo campaign manager Jake Ball, who is now on U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador's staff; Ball didn't immediately return an AP phone call seeking comment.

“I was not asked about nor approved this loan, and am certainly disappointed that the money was lost,” Crapo said. “This circumstance occurred during a period of transition between treasurers. I have ensured that the campaign has made the appropriate adjustments to prevent this, or anything similar, from happening in the future.”

Crapo spokesman Lindsay Nothern said the campaign had made no other similar loans; it had invested in CDs and other similar investments to designed to increase campaign funds during off-election years.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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