A state agency paid a whistle-blowing former employee $30,000 in state money last year, four months after the worker lost his job with state Auditor J.D. Williams.

According to a May 4, 1993, letter from Fred Martin's attorney to the state's Bureau of Risk Management, Martin agreed to accept compensation from the state for "wrongful discharge."State Treasurer Lydia Justice Edwards on Friday confirmed Martin and his attorneys had received a state "warrant" check for $30,000.

In a statement Monday, Williams said the claim was settled by Risk Management as "a compromise of a doubtful and disputed claim. Payment of this claim is not to be construed as an admission of liability but is intended to avoid litigation."

Williams said the claim was settled for much less than it would have cost if the matter went to court.

"All negotiations concerning the claim were handled through Risk Management," and Williams said he didn't even know the amount until he read it in the newspaper.

He said a confidentiality clause in the agreement prohibits anyone from discussing the claim. Officials at Williams' office said the amount paid to Martin was confidential, but Edwards on Friday released the information at the Twin Falls Times-News' request.

Martin maintains he lost his state job because he cooperated with a criminal investigation into Williams' 1992 congressional campaign, an allegation Williams denied.

Martin told investigators in 1992 Williams put his campaign manager on the public payroll, had broken state law and essentially turned the auditor's department into a campaign office.

After an investigation, Republican Ada County Prosecutor Greg Bower said "the evidence suggests substance to Martin's allegations of criminal misconduct by Williams in his dealings" with two state employees and campaign workers, Jeff Friel and Randy Furniss.

But Bower declined to press charges against Williams. Three months later, Martin's job was eliminated in what Williams described at the time as a budget-cutting decision.

Martin is now backing Ralph Gines, the Republican facing Williams in the November election.

A.E. Fridentstine of the state Bureau of Risk Management confirmed the state settled with Martin in May 1993. However, he said the agreement was confidential.

In a campaign statement this month, Williams called Martin a "very partisan and political Republican" who grew disgruntled after being denied a position on his congressional campaign.

Williams said he had been advised by Republicans against employing Martin. Edwards confirmed she was one of the Republicans who warned him; her experiences with Martin convinced her he would not be an asset to the office.

"J.D. said, `I'll be careful,"' Edwards recalled, adding she first learned of the payment on Friday.

"I'm very shocked and appalled," she said. Nevertheless, she defended Williams.

"J.D. is guilty of being kind to (Martin) and that's all," she said.

Martin was tight-lipped. "I cannot discuss any terms of the settlement," he said.

He did say, however: "I think the voters of the state of Idaho need to realize that it is costing them a lot of money to have J.D. Williams as their state auditor."