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Posts tagged: Ron Crane

Crane, Silver face off in debate over Idaho investments

Idaho state Treasurer Ron Crane’s Democratic challenger, Twin Falls CPA Deborah Silver, went on the attack in a televised debate between the two on Thursday night, charging that Crane should be fired as state treasurer for a fund transfer that auditors say cost state taxpayers at least $10 million. “In the business world, we know how this would end – the treasurer would be fired,” Silver declared. “The only way to fire this treasurer is with your vote. I am running to give Idaho taxpayers a choice for honest stewardship of their tax dollars.”

Crane protested that his office “vociferously disagreed with the findings of the legislative auditors,” and defended his actions in the transfer, which occurred after he said mortgage-backed securities the state had purchased in 2005, 2006 and 2007 were showing $70 million in losses as the housing market collapsed.

“I held those securities and rode out the storm, letting them come back in value toward par,” Crane said. “Last year, 2013, I had enough interest earnings and portfolio gains to wash out five of the seven securities and still show a profit of $122,000 for the general fund and $2 million for all the rest of the portfolios that I manage. I still have two of those securities in my portfolio. A year ago at this time, they were about $17.5 million underwater. Today, as of Friday, they are $9.6 million underwater. So they’re coming back, they’re moving in the right direction.”

Crane charged that legislative auditors wanted him to sell the securities at the time and realize the full $70 million in losses. But a critical state audit report didn’t suggest that; instead, it faulted him for transferring the securities from a local government investment pool to the investment fund for state money, shifting the losses to state taxpayers rather than local governments. You can read my full story here at

State treasurer candidates debate tonight on Idaho Public TV

Tonight on Idaho Public Television, state Treasurer Ron Crane and Democratic challenger Deborah Silver will debate at 8:30 as part of the “Idaho Debates,” co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho. After tonight’s debate, the series continues with the candidates for state superintendent of schools on Oct. 21 at 7 p.m., lieutenant governor Oct. 30 at 8:30 p.m., and candidates for governor facing off Oct. 30 at 7 p.m.

Treasurer’s debate reset for next Thursday

The canceled debate in the Idaho state treasurer's race, originally set for tonight as part of the “Idaho Debates” on Idaho Public Television, has been rescheduled for next Thursday at 8:30 p.m. State Treasurer Ron Crane asked for the change, saying he'd lost his voice and couldn't debate tonight. Democratic challenger Deborah Silver reacted with suspicion, saying the cancellation came as Crane was resisting her public records requests for various information from his office, including communications with the state Attorney General. However, she agreed to the new date next week.

The debate will air statewide at 8:30 p.m., as part of a series of debates co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho.

Crane cancels tomorrow’s debate against Silver because he’s lost his voice; it’s being rescheduled

Idaho state Treasurer Ron Crane is pulling out of tomorrow’s scheduled statewide debate on Idaho Public Television because he’s lost his voice, but is working to get it rescheduled for next week. “He’s caught the crud that everybody else has had, and yesterday he was a little froggy but today his voice is practically completely gone,” said Crane’s campaign spokesman, Ken Burgess. He said Crane remains “absolutely committed” to debating his Democratic challenger, Deborah Silver, in the “Idaho Debates,” which are co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters and broadcast live statewide on Idaho Public TV.

Silver was skeptical. “I think he doesn’t want to answer some questions that we have out there right now,” she said. The first three alternative dates proposed conflict with major campaign events she has scheduled around the state next week, she said. “I’m ready to debate. I’m totally prepared to debate. So we’ll see how this works.”

The two also are scheduled to face off at Boise TV station KTVB on Monday; Burgess said Crane is hopeful he’ll be able to do that one. The treasurer’s debate in the “Idaho Debates” had been scheduled for 8:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Silver calls on Crane to turn over investment review documents to state auditors

Deborah Silver, the Twin Falls accountant who’s challenging four-term state Treasurer Ron Crane, is calling on Crane to release a full review of questioned investment transactions to state auditors. “What else does he have to hide?” Silver asked. “Idaho taxpayers deserve the truth from their state treasurer.”

Crane maintains he’s released all the information he can, but Idaho’s state auditor’s office, in an audit report released at the end of June, said it still hadn’t received documentation showing that Crane’s office has reviewed all potentially problematic transactions, after news of one surfaced in which a state investment pool lost millions when Crane’s office reallocated assets between it and a local government investment pool.

“While documentation of two specific reallocations was provided during the audit, no additional evidence supporting a full review of all potentially inappropriate reallocations was provided,” the late-June audit report said. Laura Steffler, Crane’s chief deputy, wrote in the office’s official response submitted for that report that the office had reviewed all securities lending transactions for reallocation of assets between investment portfolios directed by the office since July 1, 2008, and had already provided all the documentation.

“Short of just saying we did it, I don’t know how else we can prove … that we did it,” said Ken Burgess, spokesman for Crane’s re-election campaign. He said Crane’s office offered the auditors access to the full documentation for every one of the tens of thousands of transactions completed under its securities lending agreement since 2008, and the auditors declined that offer. “They said we don’t want all this stuff – we just want you to somehow prove that you did a full review,” Burgess said. “How do you prove that, short of taking our word that we did it?”

Silver responded, “That makes absolutely no sense. There are statements, with the allocations going back and forth reconciling the balance. … In my view, either he really does not understand what the auditors want, or he’s deliberately dodging.” You can read my full story here at

Crane faces first debate of 16 years in office

Idaho Treasurer Ron Crane will participate in his first series of political debates since he was elected 16 years ago, reports AP reporter Kimberlee Kruesi, as Crane faces Democratic challenger Deborah Silver in November. He was unopposed in the last election in 2010. Longtime Idaho political observer Jim Weatherby told AP reporter Kimberlee Kruesi it's not unusual for incumbents to shy away from sharing the same stage as their opponents, but Crane is unusual for going nearly four terms without participating in either a local or televised debate. Crane's campaign says he didn't duck debates; he just lacked opponents, or lacked opponents who met debate criteria over the years.

Kruesi reports that the state treasurer's position has received more attention since a legislative audit was released in January finding that Crane's office conducted inappropriate money transfers that cost taxpayers millions of dollars beginning in 2008. Crane has repeatedly disputed the audit's findings, but Silver, a longtime CPA from Twin Falls, argues her opponent refuses to comply with all the auditor's recommendations. “I'm looking forward to the debates,” Silver said. “I'm very open to talking about this.”

Idaho state treasurer defends record, calls critical state audits ‘politically motivated’

In his 16 years as Idaho’s state treasurer, Ron Crane has built up the state’s credit rating, launched a popular college savings program and a free annual control-your-finances conference for women, and helped create a bond bank that lets local school bonds and other local-government debt take advantage of the state’s favorable interest rates, potentially saving property taxpayers millions. But he’s best known for a series of critical state audit findings over the past five years, the most recent suggesting that Crane made an inappropriate transfer between two funds that cost the state’s taxpayers more than $10 million.

Crane vigorously disputes the audit finding, contending his office did nothing wrong and made reasonable decisions based on what it knew at the time. “As to the charges of the audit, I maintain and will maintain that they were politically motivated,” Crane said in an interview. “We think there’s an excellent explanation for each one. When voters understand what the real explanation is, they will agree with our position.”

The audit findings have prompted a longtime Twin Falls CPA, Deborah Silver, to challenge Crane in this year’s general election. “I would absolutely follow the auditors’ suggestions, no argument, no excuses,” said Silver, a Democrat who taught accounting at the College of Southern Idaho for five years and has operated a CPA firm with her husband in Twin Falls for nearly three decades. “This is a job that I can do.”

The Spokesman-Review asked David Burgstahler, the Julius A. Roller Professor of Accounting at the University of Washington, to review the audit finding about the fund transfer and Crane’s detailed response. “I found the auditor’s conclusions pretty convincing,” Burgstahler said. You can read my full story here at

Idaho gets record-low interest rate on annual sale of tax anticipation notes

Idaho got its best interest rate ever this year on its annual sale of tax anticipation notes, which the state uses to manage its cash flow throughout the year. This year’s sale of $475 million in notes, completed last month, brought an interest rate of just .11 basis points, or 11/100ths of a percentage point. “That’s virtually free money,” said state Treasurer Ron Crane. Last year’s rate, which set the previous record low, was .19 basis points. Crane said the state drew orders from buyers who wanted $3.1 billion in Idaho’s notes when it only had $475 million to sell. “So we bumped the interest rate down to 11, and the buyers all held.”

He estimated the savings to the state’s taxpayers compared to last year’s costs at nearly $400,000; each basis point in interest costs $47,500. “Idaho paper is extremely valuable in the marketplace, because investors know they will get paid back,” Crane said. “This is because we have a track record of managing our finances well.”

Crane’s annual trip to the financial markets in New York for the sale, which typically includes a bevy of state officials, made headlines in 2011 amid reports that the Idaho group traveled in 10-person stretch limos in the Big Apple. Crane defended the practice, saying it was the most efficient way of transporting the group in the city and it was also what his predecessors had done, but he’s discontinued it; Idaho’s delegation to the New York financial markets now travels in SUV’s from a car service.  

Auditors: State Treasurer Crane hasn’t documented reviews after inappropriate transfer

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Auditors with the Idaho Legislature say State Treasurer Ron Crane has not provided enough evidence that a full review was conducted following an inappropriate money transfer. The auditors found earlier this year Crane's office overrode internal controls meant to contain financial risk and the transfer resulted in a loss of at least $10.2 million loss of taxpayer money. The 90-day follow-up audit says Crane's office asserts it has reviewed its securities lending transactions but has only provided state officials with documentation for two specific transactions. Crane, a four-term treasurer, has disagreed with the report's findings. He did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press. The report also says state auditors will assess the effectiveness of Crane's office reorganization in a later review.

Click below for a full report from AP reporter Kimberlee Kruesi.

Audit: State treasurer’s ‘inappropriate’ transfers have cost taxpayers $10.2M, could rise to $27M

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Inappropriate transfers by Treasurer Ron Crane's office have cost taxpayers $10.2 million so far, but the hit to public money could rise to $27 million, according to an audit that concludes Idaho's money manager overrode internal controls meant to help contain financial risks. Legislative auditors concluded in a report that Crane's office should strengthen its measures designed to keep Idaho from losing money. Crane, whose management has drawn fire from auditors in the past including for using limousines in trips to New York, didn't immediately return a phone call Friday. But in a written response, Crane says he disagrees with the finding. The losses result from investments in mortgage-backed securities hit by the housing bubble's collapse. Crane shifted these investments between accounts in 2009, exposing state taxpayers to the risk.

You can read Lewiston Tribune reporter Bill Spence's full report here. State lawmakers received the audit report today. Click below for the full AP report from reporter John Miller.

State gets record-low interest rate on its annual short-term borrowing

Idaho got the lowest interest rate on its annual sale of $500 million in Tax Anticipation Notes this year since it started issuing the one-year notes in 1983, state Treasurer Ron Crane announced today. The state’s yield, or net expense, on the notes came in at 0.19 percent. Last year’s sale earned a 0.23 percent yield, “so .19 is very cheap,” said Shawn Nydegger, an investment officer in the treasurer’s office. The lower interest rate means the state will save $380,000 in interest costs for the year.

Though interest rates have been trending up, municipal bond rates have stayed low, and Idaho’s sterling credit ratings allowed it to get even more favorable rates. This year’s TAN issue actually had a coupon rate of 0.20, but bond buyers paid a premium up-front to get the notes, taking the net expense for the state down to 0.19.

“Idaho paper is extremely valuable in the marketplace because investors know they will get paid back,” Crane said. “This is because we have a track record of managing our finances well.” Idaho’s current credit ratings from the three major rating services is the top one available; click below for Crane’s full statement.

State treasurer revamps expense accounting after audit

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Treasurer Ron Crane has revamped how he documents some of his office's expenses, after concerns raised by state auditors last year. A 2012 audit of Crane's office determined expenses from his annual bond-rating trips to New York, including limousine transportation, weren't properly reported. Auditors also questioned Crane's use of a state credit card to buy $8,000 in gas for his personal car, and his office's funding of a women's financial conference. In a report released Tuesday, auditors say Crane buttressed record-keeping for the New York trips, requiring employees to document specific expenses. He now tracks gas purchases, reimbursing Idaho for personal trips. And while auditors contend Crane is still inappropriately funding the women's conference, he has revamped its nonprofit board — to distance its leaders from the treasurer's office.

Idaho gets top rating for short-term bonds

Idaho has received top bond ratings from three ratings agencies for its upcoming annual sale of Tax Anticipation Notes, state Treasurer Ron Crane announced today; the favorable ratings mean easier sales and better interest rates. Said Crane, “Our bonds are so highly sought after in the market that we generally receive nine times the demand for the paper we are selling at any given time. It is not unusual for us to sell a half a billion dollars in Idaho bonds within an hour.”

Idaho will make its annual sale of short-term notes on the bond market on June 19, with $500 million in bonds; click below for Crane's full announcement.

State auditors, Idaho treasurer at odds over office audit

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Legislative auditors found several problems with how Idaho Treasurer Ron Crane oversaw his office's accounting, including how he documented trips to New York City where some costs were found to exceed allowable limits. Crane disputes the findings, contending no previous audits of his office raised similar concerns. Still, the four-term Republican agreed to report expenditures through Idaho's accounting system in the future, among other changes. For months, it's been public knowledge Crane's office was under scrutiny, after The Associated Press reported he used stretch limousines on New York trips to transport family members. Monday's report outlines three findings: Crane's New York trips weren't adequately documented; he didn't properly account for a taxpayer-provided Chevron card used to gas up his private vehicle; and he exceeded his office's authority with several programs. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

No charges for Crane over gas card use

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A southwestern Idaho county prosecutor won't pursue criminal charges against state Treasurer Ron Crane over his use of a state gas card to fill up his private vehicle. Canyon County prosecutor Bryan Taylor did recommend Crane begin more-comprehensive record keeping, to ensure he's not using taxpayer-funded gasoline for personal trips. Taylor also said he strongly advocates for the state to clarify its state travel policy. Crane said in a statement that he was delighted with Taylor's findings — and will keep comprehensive driving records. His office's finances have been the focus of an audit by Legislative Services. The state forwarded concerns over Crane's use of a state Chevron card to fill up his personal vehicle and commute to and from the Capitol in Boise to the prosecutor for further scrutiny. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

State treasurer’s commuting: Taxable?

The Associated Press today reports a new wrinkle in the controversy over state Treasurer Ron Crane using a state gas card to gas up his personal vehicle for his commutes from Canyon County to the state Capitol: Other state employees who are reimbursed for commuting travel report that benefit as income and pay taxes on it. Crane doesn't. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

State treasurer’s gas card use scrutinized

A southwestern Idaho prosecutor is scrutinizing whether state Treasurer Ron Crane broke the law by using a state credit card to fuel up a personal vehicle he drives to and from the Capitol, and on short excursions to grocery stores or church, the Associated Press reports. Canyon County prosecutor Bryan Taylor confirmed to the AP that Idaho Legislative Services auditors who have been reviewing the financial records of Crane's office for months have forwarded their preliminary findings to him. “They've asked us to see if any criminal offense took place within Canyon County's jurisdiction,” Taylor said. “We're fairly early into that investigation.” Click below for the full story from AP reporter John Miller.

Crane says relatives should cover added limo costs

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — State Treasurer Ron Crane says relatives accompanying Idaho officials on annual trips to New York City should repay the state if their presence adds to ground transportation costs. Last week, The Associated Press reported Crane's office spent $10,000 since 2009 on stretch limousines and executive sedans to transport state employees and their family members while in New York. In an interview Tuesday, Crane said past instances where relatives added to costs, including for cars carrying their luggage, reflected “oversights,” not common practice. If spouses or children increase the bill, Crane said they should cover it. Still, Crane said transporting officials by limousine to meetings with ratings agencies to discuss Idaho's credit-worthiness remains appropriate, because it lets them travel together without risking getting split up, as they might in multiple taxis. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

AP: State treasurer’s office defends New York limo use

A stretch limousine for eight people - with minibar, mood lights and TV - awaited Idaho Sen. Dean Cameron when he arrived with his wife at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on June 7, 2009, reports Associated Press reporter John Miller. Cameron was with state Treasurer Ron Crane's annual Wall Street pilgrimage, to meet with ratings agencies over the $500 million in short-term debt securities that Idaho sells yearly to finance government's day-to-day affairs. “I was surprised,” said Cameron, a Rupert Republican. “I don't think I'd ever ridden in a stretch limousine before, nor have I since.” Cameron, who rode into Manhattan with Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, and their spouses, was also surprised this week to finally learn the limo bill: $244.13. Miller reports that Crane's office spent nearly $10,000 on stretch limousines, Lincoln Town Cars and executive sedans to transport Idaho state employees and their family members from 2009 through 2011, when taxis would have been cheaper, and that similar expenditures were made by state treasurers in previous years as well. Click below for Miller's full report.

State Treasurer Ron Crane has open-heart surgery

Idaho State Treasurer Ron Crane underwent open-heart surgery this morning, and his office reports that Crane had a successful triple bypass operation and is resting comfortably in a Boise hospital; he is expected to return to work at the state Capitol in about two weeks.

Crane, 62, is serving his fourth term as state treasurer; last year, he was re-elected without opposition. A Republican, he served 16 years in the state House of Representatives before being elected to the state office, in which he serves as the state's chief fiscal officer and banker of monies collected by the state.

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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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