Bringing the Economy Home

Commerce Director Says His Bankruptcy Was “On The Table” In Hiring Discussion

Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

Sayer says he's "not proud" of the financial difficulties he faced years before his appointment.

Idaho Commerce Department Director Jeff Sayer filed for personal bankruptcy in 2003, less than a decade before Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter appointed him to his current job.  That’s according to an Idaho Statesman report this weekend.

Director Sayer’s bankruptcy was not public knowledge ahead of his appointment last fall, but it was known to Gov. Otter and a number of lawmakers, including at least one Democrat.  Sayer today said he was deliberately forthcoming with those who vetted him for the Commerce Department’s top job.  “Had I been an elected official, clearly it would have needed to be a public discussion,” he says. 

Sayer also says it was his business experience, not his ties to the governor, that led to his selection. “Before this position, I did know the governor.  But, as I understand it, my name was put on the short list of candidates for this position not because of my relationship with the governor, but because of the professional success I had had.”

Sayer accumulated debts while working for a venture capital firm that suffered when the dot com bubble burst.  He lived in Portland, Ore. at the time of his bankruptcy filing.  His liabilities totaled more $300,000, according to the Idaho Statesman’s report.  Sayer went on to become CFO of Mountain View Hospital in Idaho Falls.  Its revenue and number of locations posted significant growth under his leadership.


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