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Audit finds no problems with Idaho Treasurer

Statehouse rotunda croppedAuditors for the Idaho Legislature say they found no problems with accounting or administrative procedures at the state treasurer’s office in a report released Sept. 18.

Treasurer Ron Crane said he’s extremely pleased with the report and says it shows that all prior concerns have been resolved to the legislative auditor’s full satisfaction.

Crane is running for his fifth term against Democratic opponent Deborah Silver in the general election.

But the report Sept. 18 does not resolve a 90-day follow-up audit released in July that says Crane has not provided enough proof that he reviewed his office’s lending transactions following a 2009 inappropriate money transfer. Auditors said that investment transfer cost taxpayers $10.2 million.

Crane’s campaign spokesman Ken Burgess said Crane’s news release praising the office’s 100 percent rating was not meant to include the supplemental report.

Crane’s office and the legislative office are currently “battling” over the follow-up audit, Burgess said.

According to the audit that led to the 90-day review, Crane’s office transferred investments he thought were worth their face value of about $31 million of mortgage-backed securities hit by the collapse of the 2008 housing bubble. Instead their real market value was $10.2 million less.

Crane has repeatedly rebuffed that audit’s findings, adding that he has reviewed his office to fix the problem but has not provided proof to auditors.

Legislative auditor April Renfro said the report didn’t review the office’s investment transactions. Instead, it focused on a three-year review of operations and management. The last management report found three areas of concern during the years 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The first dealt with Crane charging the office almost $8,000 for gas to commute from his home in Nampa to drive to the Capitol — 25 miles away— on a state credit card. Auditors reported the findings to the state Attorney General’s office concerned it violated Idaho law, but the office eventually said it didn’t. However, Crane now pays for his own gas.

The second finding took issue with Crane’s method of financing the “Smart Money, Smart Women” conference that the treasurer’s office had sponsored throughout Idaho. The issue is resolved now because a legislative budget committee has since started appropriating $10,000 each year for the conference in the treasurer’s budget.

Finally, the third finding was critical of Crane using stretch limos for transport during the annual bond rating trips to New York. Crane says the Idaho delegation now uses SUVs.

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