BOISE, Idaho — Legislative auditors say they have found a discrepancy in the travel reimbursements of an Idaho state senator accused of having an extramarital affair with a fellow lawmaker.
Auditors reviewed the past three years of travel vouchers for Rep. Christy Perry of Nampa and Sen. Jim Guthrie of McCammon. House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill requested the audit following accusations that the two were involved in an affair.
According to the report released Friday, Guthrie was reimbursed for a four-day trip in January, but auditors were unable to verify the final night of the trip was for official state business.
Guthrie also didn’t have enough documentation for a smaller earlier expense in the same trip. The auditors said the total improper reimbursement was just over $121.
That expense was one of 56 payments Guthrie received from Sept. 1, 2013, to Aug.1, 2016. All other payments were for allowable costs such as hotel rooms, gas mileage and meal reimbursements.
Auditors did not find any discrepancies in the five payments Perry received during the same timeframe.
Guthrie and Perry, both Republicans, did not return requests for comment.
Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill said Guthrie told him that the extra day was spent organizing the senator’s Boise office while preparing for this year’s legislative session. Senators are not required to keep detailed reasons why they are requesting reimbursements but are encouraged to do so.
“I am comfortable with the report at this point,” Hill said. “I am not concerned with any misuse of public funds. Now the issue is should something else be done. But we can’t do anything until the legislative session.”
Only lawmakers can request a formal ethics investigation against a fellow lawmaker. Complaints filed by lawmakers are not public until the legislative ethics committee concludes it has merit.
An ethics committee can be called in the case of a complaint that alleges conduct unbecoming of a House or Senate member. State law does not define what constitutes unbecoming conduct. Ethics complaints filed by lawmakers are not public until the committee concludes it has merit.
Guthrie’s wife, Barbara, told ultra-conservative blogger Lance Earl in eastern Idaho that an affair between Guthrie and Perry had been going on for three years. Neither Perry, Guthrie nor legislative leadership have confirmed the details of the affair cited on the blog, which was published last week.
Efforts to reach Barbara Guthrie weren’t immediately successful.
However, Perry did release a statement shortly after the blog post was released saying she had a made “a terrible mistake” two years ago with a friend in the Legislature, but did not cite with whom and denied the overall allegations listed in the blog post.
Guthrie filed for divorce last year, which was finalized in July. According to court documents, Guthrie’s wife cited an affair as the reason for the divorce.
Perry filed for divorce in April, but the couple later decided to reconcile.
Neither lawmaker has indicated if they will resign despite the urgings of some critics, who argue they have violated their oaths to uphold the state’s constitution and laws. Adultery is still considered a felony in Idaho, even though it is rarely prosecuted.
Both lawmakers are seeking re-election and face Democratic opponents. The two currently hold legislative leadership positions, with Perry overseeing the House Ways and Means Committee and Guthrie serving as vice-chair of the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee — both of which will be re-re-evaluated by legislative leadership in the fall.