- Associated Press - Monday, April 4, 2016

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - In a story April 1 about Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and the broadband lawsuit, The Associated Press reported erroneously the name of the director of the Idaho Department of Administration. His name is Bob Geddes, not Bob Goeddes.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Wasden: Ready to take legal action on broadband repayments

Idaho’s Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says his office is ready to take legal action in the event the Department of Administration declines to pursue getting back money paid out under the illegal $60 million broadband contract

By KIMBERLEE KRUESI

Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho’s Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says his office is ready to take legal action in the event the Department of Administration refuses to try to recover money paid out under the illegal $60 million broadband contract.

In March, the Idaho Supreme Court agreed that a statewide contract for broadband in public schools was void. The justices said the law required the state to try to recover the money already paid out under the voided contract, but they stopped short of officially ordering state officials to seek repayment.

Instead, the justices ruled that if the appropriate state officer does not seek repayment, the state’s chief legal officer could step forward to do the job. “The Supreme Court was pretty clear about the duty certain public officers have to claw back that money, and it’s pretty evident on the face of the statute,” Wasden said on Friday.

A spokeswoman for Department of Administration Director Bob Geddes says the agency has until October to make a final decision, but she added that a decision would likely not be made soon.

Wasden’s announcement comes almost a week after the Idaho Legislature approved allocating $8 million for a possible settlement with the former vendors of the Idaho Education Network.

House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill have been negotiating with Education Networks of America and Qwest to come up with a fair dollar amount to cover the work the companies did under the contract but were not yet paid for because the state halted payments once a lower court voided the contract.

“This is about saving the taxpayer money. We have exposure here and we can settle over there. That’s a good thing for Idaho taxpayers,” Bedke said.

Bedke and Hill said the settlement will be cheaper than the $11 million the state is currently facing in tort claims from the vendors.

“The Legislature can appropriate this money into this fund. There’s nothing constitutionally unsound about that. The question becomes then in the expenditure of that money and it must be done in the accordance of the law,” Wasden said.

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