Nearly three dozen entities filed a motion in Idaho’s Fourth Judicial District seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions against the Idaho Office of Attorney General Raúl Labrador in response to recent Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs) filed by the office last week related to grant funding for education programs in 2021 and 2022.
As many as 80 Idaho-based entities that applied for and received federal grants through an Idaho Department of Health & Welfare (IDHW) Community Partner Grant Program were served with CIDs from the Idaho Office of the Attorney General last week.
The Community Partner Grant Program was created through the Federal American Rescue Plan Act to address learning loss as a result of the pandemic. CIDs are an infrequently used subpoena-like measure typically reserved for AntiTrust or False Claims cases, most commonly seen in healthcare. Unlike other subpoenas, the attorney general can issue CIDs without prior oversight of the court. The dozens of CIDs issued last week by the Idaho Office of Attorney General were not approved by a judge and did not include probable cause for issuance.
The complaint against Attorney General Labrador was submitted on behalf of 35 plaintiffs including: Marsing School District, Nampa School District, Children’s Home Society, United Way (Treasure Valley, North Idaho and Southeastern Idaho), the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children, Middleton Counseling Center, and many others who received funding through the program.
“The action taken by the Idaho Office of the Attorney General is an overreach of government power that distracts from serving Idaho families and communities,” Greg Chaney, former Idaho lawmaker and attorney representing the petitioners that filed the motion, said. “Civil Investigative Demands are reserved for counterfeiters and fraudsters. The DHW Community Partner grantees and their efforts have been shared publicly and widely promoted. These are deserving, upstanding organizations and agencies that have been serving families and children throughout Idaho in compliance with the grant.”
The Idaho Office of the Attorney General ordered records related to the grant program including emails, draft documents, meeting notes, personal diaries, desk calendars, personal contribution lists of staff and more. The entities served, mostly school districts and non-profit organizations, are expected to produce requested documentation at their own expense.
“We run science-based after school programming, with daily groups of healthy living, arts, STEM, and life skills. Our youth center provides a safe place where kids can learn skills and stay safe after school. We applied for funds to get a science-based after school program up and running,” said Lincoln County Commissioner, Rebecca Wood. “We were served with the civil investigation demand at the Lincoln County Youth Center. My initial reaction was shock. The demands were really over the top. They are literally asking for the personal information of everyone who works or volunteers at the center, including addresses. I would have to hire someone specifically to produce the amount of records they are looking for. We are busy taking care of kids – we don’t have legal staff to produce this mountain of paperwork.”