- Associated Press - Thursday, February 26, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Two individuals have filed federal lawsuits against Idaho contending the state retaliated against them after each informed officials that the Idaho Commission on Aging failed to properly distribute federal money.

The lawsuits filed Wednesday by Sarah Scott and Kendra Kenyon name the commissioners of the Idaho Commission on Aging and the commission’s administrator, Sam Haws.

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and Lt. Gov. Brad Little are also named as defendants in the lawsuits.

Scott and Kenyon say in the lawsuits that their speaking about the state’s violations of the federal Older Americans Act led to retaliatory measures by Haws that cost them their jobs with contractors associated with the commission.

The lawsuits contend the state took action against them that violated their First Amendment right to free speech and the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. Scott and Kenyon are each seeking an undetermined amount of damages to be decided at trial.

The Idaho attorney general’s office, which would likely defend the state against the lawsuits unless outside attorneys are used, said Thursday it hadn’t seen the lawsuits and couldn’t comment.

The lawsuits revolve around Idaho’s intrastate funding formula, which both Scott and Kenyon said is significantly flawed and fails to comply with federal law. They also say the state spends too much money on administration rather than using the money for delivering services.

Scott is the former director of the Area Agency on Aging, and Kenyon is the former president of the Idaho Council of Governments. Those are entities that, at the time cited in the lawsuits, employed Scott and Kenyon and contracted with the Idaho Commission on Aging to perform various services.

The lawsuits contend that after Scott and Kenyon made the commission aware of possibly inappropriate uses of federal money, the state altered the contracts that led to both of them losing their jobs.

Both lawsuits allege that Haws was “principally responsible for the unlawful retaliation.”

Haws didn’t return a call from The Associated Press on Thursday.

The Idaho Commission on Aging, according to its website, “serves Idaho’s seniors, people with disabilities, and their caregivers by safeguarding their rights, fostering self-sufficiency, providing counseling, and advocating on their behalf.”

Some of the services the agency offers include home delivered meals, transportation, light housework and meal preparation, and a respite program that offers breaks for caregivers.

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