SANDPOINT — A video appearing to show Bonner County Commissioner Dan McDonald accusing the Kalispel Tribe of corruption has been posted to YouTube.
The 9-minute, 53-second clip uploaded to the video-sharing website was recorded in November 2017 and involved a discussion between Citizens Against the Newport Silicon Smelter and the board’s District 3 commissioner.
In the clip, which was posted to the internet by CANNS member Michael Naylor, McDonald said facts would trump emotion in the contentious debate over the smelter proposal.
“We need to find out whether or not this is actually is going to pose a risk or whether it’s not,” McDonald is heard saying in the clip.
Members of CANSS told the commissioner their property values would plummet if the smelter is approved by regulators in Washington state. He countered by saying they would likely reap a financial windfall if they sold their properties due to the resurgence in the real estate market.
“If you put your house for sale you guys would probably make a ton of money,” McDonald said. “You can make a ton of money if you move somewhere else.”
CANSS members in attendance balked at the idea of walking away from their dream homes in the Inland Northwest, while McDonald advocated for better paying jobs in the region.
“We need more jobs. We need more good-paying jobs here. We’ve got too many service-sector jobs,” McDonald said in the video.
McDonald suggested that the Kalispel Tribe, a vocal opponent of the smelter proposal, is fighting the project because it didn’t receive a kickback.
“They’re the dirtiest group on the planet. I used to work for them,” McDonald said in the video.
An unidentified CANSS member said he would advise the tribe of McDonald’s remarks, but the commissioner was unfazed.
“Feel free because I’ve got the facts. I actually do have the proof. They wanted a $2 million kickback on a $30 million job,” said McDonald, who noted that commissioners in Bonner and Pend Oreille counties have been falsely accused of being on the take in the smelter saga.
At the end of the clip, one CANSS member tells another, “I got it,” presumably in reference to video of the encounter.
“Wow,” a CANSS member replies.
McDonald released the following statement against when asked about the authenticity of the video.
“One of the things that bothers me the most is that they edit out most of what I said with respect to doing business with different tribes and try to make me look like a racist. I’m one-eight Cherokee and my granddaughter is three-quarters Native American and lives on the Coeur d’Alene reservation. His fake recording and comments are out there forever. I just pray my granddaughter never reads or hears this altered audio. It’s a cheap campaign stunt and an utterly disgusting attack on my family.”
McDonald, a Republican, is facing Sandpoint Democrat Steve Lockwood in the Nov. 6 general election.
The YouTube clip can be viewed here: youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=0CHOiSZr8zk
Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.