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A Washington, D.C., watchdog group filed an ethics complaint Thursday related to just over $6,000 of undisclosed payments to the wife of U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho.

The Campaign for Accountability complaint notes that Crapo failed to disclose payments from his leadership PAC to his wife, Susan, on his 2017 personal financial disclosure report. The payments were compensation for campaign work. 

Crapo listed his Senate campaign committee as having employed his wife and paid her more than $1,000, but didn’t also list his leadership PAC, Freedom Fund. However, he detailed the payments from both committees, totaling nearly $27,000 in 2017, on his campaign finance reports, identifying them as payments for producing handmade gifts for donors at annual fundraisers in 2015 and 2016.

Sam Neel, attorney for Crapo, said in an email Thursday, “The payments made in 2017 from Freedom Fund to Mrs. Crapo were inadvertently left off the senator's financial disclosure report filed last month with the U.S. Senate. That oversight has been remedied by an amendment filed today with the Senate to fully reflect the payments.”

Neel said Crapo’s wife had done work including “managing logistical arrangements for the campaign and assisting the committees’ fundraising efforts,” adding, “Her work has been invaluable to the committees.”

“As the campaign and Freedom Fund have disclosed for years in their reports filed with the FEC, Susan Crapo has been paid fair market value for her work done on behalf of the committees,” Neel said. “Each payment has been made in accordance with campaign finance laws and regulations.”

Campaign for Accountability Director Daniel Stevens said, “Sen. Crapo clearly violated federal laws by failing to disclose that Susan Crapo was employed by his leadership PAC. The Senate Ethics Committee should open an inquiry and, if it determines the senator knowingly and willfully violated the law, the committee should refer the matter to the attorney general for further investigation.”

Crapo had listed the Freedom Fund as employing his wife in earlier years’ disclosure reports, in 2013 and 2014. The Idaho Statesman reported Thursday that over the past two decades, the Crapo campaign’s various payments to Susan Crapo added up to $192,000. Neel said she was paid less than $15,000 a year on average.

Campaign for Accountability is the same group that filed a Federal Election Commission complaint in April against Crapo for not disclosing his use of lobbyist Vicki Hart’s Capitol Hill condo for fundraising activities; Crapo subsequently disclosed that his campaign and leadership committees had used the condo for meetings 81 times over four years without charge.

It was the same condo in which EPA Director Scott Pruitt stayed at under-market rent. After the complaint, Crapo’s committees reimbursed Hart for $100 per meeting and filed amended FEC reports.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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