Stephen Ryan, a Washington, D.C. attorney hired by Sen. Mike Crapo’s campaign to look into the loss of $250,000 in campaign funds through a bad loan, said this afternoon that then-campaign manager Jake Ball loaned the money to Gavin McCaleb, whom he’d known for 16 years, and McCaleb invested it into real estate ventures in Nevada and California that went sour. McCaleb is bankrupt, and the campaign can’t collect from him, Ryan said.
Ball, who now works for 1stDistrict Rep. Raul Labrador, didn’t tell Crapo about the bad loan until he was leaving the staff in late 2010; because the campaign was between treasurers, he was the sole staffer who approved that use of the campaign funds. “We had a campaign person who made a bad business decision and lost the money,” Ryan said; he said Ball was not fired for the incident. “I think Mr. Ball made an error of judgment in making the investment, but I found no evidence that he intended to benefit personally in any way,” Ryan said. “He did trust someone who he knew well,” and that didn’t turn out well.
As for the campaign donors who gave that $250,000 to Crapo’s campaign, Ryan said, “Certainly there’s been a lot of money that’s been properly used in his campaign.” He said, “I think most people understand that this can happen in a business situation, that somebody makes a mistake and it’s a loss and it’s unfortunate. So there’s probably 250 people who cared enough about the senator to give $1,000 and may have to dig deep and give it again.” Crapo has $3.3 million piled up in his campaign warchest, far more than any other member of Idaho’s congressional delegation, though he’s not up for election again until 2016.