Former Idaho congressional candidate pleads guilty to misusing pandemic relief funds

Nicholas Jones appeared on the Idaho Debates Q & A in 2020 when he ran for the U.S. House District 1 seat. (Screengrab)

By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports

Former 2020 congressional candidate Nicholas Jones pleaded guilty Wednesday to using COVID-19 relief funds for personal expenditures and falsifying records to conceal campaign fund reports.

U.S. House District 1 Republican primary election challenger Nicholas Jones appeared on the Idaho Debates Q & A in 2020

According to court documents, Jones, 36, of Boise, applied for and received COVID-19 relief funds in 2020. He is a small business owner and received funding  through the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans, totaling $753,600. 

According to the Department of Justice, “Despite certifying that these funds would only be used for business-related expenditures, Jones used a significant portion of the funds for personal expenses, including car payments, life insurance policies, and political advertisements.” 

Jones allegedly “told employees of his small business that they could continue to be paid their normal wages if they worked on his congressional campaign. Employees reported to work on behalf of Jones’s congressional campaign and were paid thousands of dollars in wages through Jones’s small business including, in part, with funds Jones had received as part of a PPP loan.”

The DOJ claims that after Jones lost the election, “Jones caused his campaign committee to file a campaign finance report with the FEC, which omitted any in-kind contributions from any entity or individual other than Jones, including the thousands of dollars of in-kind contributions to his campaign in the form of employee time and work.” 

Jones pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court of Idaho to felonies of wire fraud and falsification of records.

He faces a maximum total penalty of up to 40 years in prison when sentenced. 

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