By Seth Ogilvie
Vicky McIntyre wants to be the next treasurer of Idaho, which would make her the chief financial officer and banker of the state.
But she’s been accused of having trouble accounting for her own financial transactions as Ada County Treasurer, and it’s not the first time.
McIntyre has been in the news before. She misplaced a check in 2015 that led to a $19,000 settlement and recently she attempted to get paid for taxi rides that Ada County has already paid, but those incidents could have been honest mistakes. Scott Logan of KBOI-TV and Cynthia Sewell of the Idaho Statesman have comprehensive coverage of that.
Two of the transactions that happened earlier this year, however, are harder to explain away as a simple mistake. One purchase was for an NHL hockey in Las Vegas. The other was for a ride on a 550 foot tall Ferris wheel.
McIntyre told the Idaho Reports on Thursday the hockey tickets were offered as part of the annual Government Investment Officers Association conference, which took place March 21-23 this year. The tickets were put on her county credit card. “I got an email from the conference asking me to attend,” McIntyre told Idaho Reports on Thursday. She could not immediately produce the email.
“I didn’t intentionally use it for something I didn’t think was appropriate,” McIntyre said.
The tickets were not accidentally added on to the bill for the conference. McIntyre didn’t pay for the conference on her county card; Rather, used a voucher from the county to pay for it. Yet she paid for the hockey tickets on the county credit card, and the hockey tickets were not related to participation in the conference.
Jennifer Felger, executive director of the Las Vegas-based Government Investment Officers Association, told Idaho Reports on Wednesday the hockey game was a “separate event not included in conference.” Tickets were separate, meaning McIntyre would have had to consciously buy them — which she says she did.
In the event description of the conference, there is no reference to a hockey game. The only conference event being held on the day of the hockey game was early registration and there was no official conference activity.
On Jan. 16th, McIntyre received a voucher from the county totaling $175.00 to pay for her conference fees. She said that money was put on her county card to pay for the conference. Here is the document:
Fourteen days after McIntyre received the voucher, she purchased the hockey tickets. The receipt does not show a charge for the conference, lining up with Felger’s statement that the two events were separate. Here is that document:
The two transactions were different things. The conference was an approved purchase authorized by the county. The voucher document proves that. McIntyre told Idaho Reports that a similar voucher document should exist for the hockey game, and that the purchase couldn’t have been made without the voucher.
Idaho Reports requested all documents related to the credit card purchases and travel, and did not receive any documents showing a voucher for a hockey game.
“There is no voucher for the hockey game, as it was a credit card transaction,” said Ada County Clerk Chris Rich. “The credit card can be used without a voucher, and the county is stuck with the bill, even if the purchase was not approved or appropriate.”
“They are probably not giving you all the documents,” McIntyre said when asked about the discrepancy.
Rich disagreed. “She and her office are the originators of those documents,” he told Idaho Reports on Friday. “We simply review them, and we have turned everything we have over to you. We would never knowingly withhold documents.”
According to the Ada County Accounting Handbook “purchase of personal items are strictly prohibited.” It continues, “reimbursement for alcohol, cigars, entertainment, etc., is strictly prohibited.”
The milage and the timing are also important here, as McIntyre bought the tickets two months before going to Las Vegas. She bought the tickets online after receiving an email from the Government Investment Officers Association. McIntyre says she purposely bought the tickets on the government card. It was no accident.
McIntyre also purchased tickets to take a ride on the LINQ High Roller Ferris Wheel, costing $104.00 on her public credit card. According to the current price list, it looks like the ride was at night. According to the documents, she brought a guest, and the ride had an open bar.
WHAT ARE THE TICKET PRICES?
- Daytime ride ticket: $25
- Nighttime ride ticket: $37
- Youth pricing (ages 4-12): $10 daytime ride, $20 nighttime ride. Children 3 and under are free!
- Happy Half Hour – Day: $40, includes ride with open bar
- Happy Half Hour – Night: $52, includes ride with open bar
That transaction was processed via the Ada County accounting system on March 23rd. Take a look:
McIntyre and a woman identified in documents as Beth reimbursed the county for that High Roller ride. (McIntyre has not reimbursed the county for the hockey game.) Regardless, personal purchases of any type with public money is against the rules reimbursed or not.
McIntyre has been asked to surrender her credit card. She has refused.
“Every department has things like this,” McIntyre said. “They’re just coming after me.”
“When things don’t align, it is my job to point out where things are wrong or could use improvement,” Rich said. “My office and I do that for the entire county — my office included. It is my job, and at times, it is not popular.”
The Idaho Debates where McIntyre addressed these issues with her Republican opponents Julie A. Ellsworth and Tom Kealey can be watched right here if you can’t get enough treasurer information.