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Out of Idaho’s statewide candidates: Who’s got the cash?

The Idaho State Capitol building reflected in the Joe R. Williams building on May 5, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Mountain Sun)
Otto Kitsinger
The Idaho State Capitol building reflected in the Joe R. Williams building on May 5, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Mountain Sun)

Some candidates spending large sums on consulting firms out of state

When it comes to campaigning, having cash on hand is important to be able to respond quickly as the race develops and to compete with challengers for the same seat. While some candidates appear to be holding on to cash and waiting to spend large amounts of it, others in the race for statewide office in Idaho have already started burning through it in full campaign mode.

Candidates were required to file a monthly report with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office by Feb. 10, which includes all donations of any amount, in-kind contributions and loans, as well as expenditures and other financial activity from the month of January. The individual maximum contribution for a single election is $5,000, but some individuals and businesses will give two $5,000 contributions at the same time with one marked for the primary election and one for the general election if the candidate makes it through the primary process.

Many candidates have already announced their intentions to run for office. Some have not publicly announced but have started to fundraise or appointed a treasurer for a campaign. Candidates won’t be on the ballot unless they officially file for office in 2022.

Idaho’s primary election will take place May 17, and the general election will be held Nov. 8. The deadline for candidates to file for statewide office is March 11.

The Idaho Capital Sun has compiled the donations for statewide candidates into searchable tables and a visualization of the fundraising totals, expenditures and cash on hand for each candidate.

Candidates for Idaho governor spending large amounts on consulting companies

Idaho Gov. Brad Little leads the way with cash on hand and has spent about $300,000 of the $1.26 million he has in cash on hand. Little has also not formally announced he is running for re-election, but he has appointed a campaign manager and has raised $1.47 million so far. He also has $800,000 in a personal loan from his own finances hanging on from the primary election he won in 2018, but that doesn’t count against his cash on hand, according to campaign manager Hayden Rogers.

Little has spent close to $11,000 with a company called FP1 Strategies, a political consulting and advertising company based in Arlington, Virginia. He has also put more than $27,000 of his campaign funds toward Moore Information Group, a polling company in Portland, Oregon. He has also spent $25,000 with America Rising Corporation, another Arlington company that specializes in opposition research.

Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin is actively campaigning to take Little’s place as governor, and recently paid nearly $101,000 of her campaign funds to AxMedia, a political advertising company based in Kansas City, Missouri, as well as more than $24,000 to a graphic design company called Kalisto Design based in Moscow, Idaho, that specializes in political advertising.

Ammon Bundy, who is also running for governor as a Republican, has a small amount of cash on hand — just $11,805 left of $325,375 raised to date. About $34,000 of those funds have gone to an advertising company in Meridian called Four Eyed Monster, and Bundy used close to $24,000 to pay himself back for loans to the campaign effort. Another $12,000 has gone to an Emmett-based company called Abish-Husbondi Inc.

Republican challenger Ed Humphreys has among the least cash on hand, with a little more than $6,000 left of $266,000 raised. Of that total, nearly $70,000 was spent on broadcast advertising, more than $53,000 was spent on other advertising efforts, and more than $20,000 was spent on events.

Steve Bradshaw, a Bonner County commissioner who is running for governor as a Republican, has about $3,800 in cash on hand out of more than $56,000 raised so far in his campaign. He has spent $10,000 of that total on a media company out of Missoula, Montana, called Cherry Creek Media, and $7,500 on an in-kind contribution to the Cocolalla Cowboy Church.

Sandpoint mayor Shelby Rognstad, who is running for governor as a Democrat, has raised more than $94,000 so far and spent more than $46,000 of it, with close to $45,000 remaining on hand. Most of that sum, about $23,000, has gone to paying campaign staff, along with nearly $11,000 for general operational expenses and about $7,500 for travel and food.

Robert Dempsay, who is also running as a Democrat, has raised $1,263 and spent $1,017, mostly on advertising.

Other Republican candidates Lisa Marie, Cody Usabel and Jeff Cotton haven’t reported any contributions, nor has Constitution party candidate Pro-Life.

Paul Sand, a libertarian from White Bird, appointed a treasurer and announced his candidacy, but has not reported any contributions.

Lieutenant governor candidates show large in-kind contributions

Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, and Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, continue to be close in fundraising totals, but Giddings has spent more so far, leaving her with less cash on hand.

Bedke has more than $372,000 in cash on hand with $71,000 in expenditures, with more than $27,000 of that spent on events and close to $15,000 on advertising. Bedke has also received several large in-kind contributions, including $3,353 from the Coeur d'Alene Resort and $3,600 from Con Paulos, a Jerome resident who owns a Chevrolet dealership.

Giddings has spent more than $148,000 of her $416,000 raised, leaving more than $254,000 left on hand. About $42,000 of Giddings’ expenditures have gone toward wages to a Layton, Utah, company called Red Mountain Direct, while about $10,000 has been spent on campaign events and close to $40,000 has been spent on campaign literature and related advertising.

Giddings also reported two in-kind contributions in the amount of $310 each from Alta Arms, a custom gun shop in Coeur d'Alene. Giddings recently sent an email to supporters giving away an AR-15 from Alta Arms, which said the gun was worth $1,510.

Terri Pickens Manweiler, a Boise attorney who is the only Democrat in the race so far for lieutenant governor, has more than $88,000 in cash on hand from close to $109,000 raised. So far, she has spent about $20,000 largely on campaign staff wages and operations.

Attorney general candidate has big sum of cash on hand

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced he would seek a sixth term in late November. He was first elected in 2002, making him the longest serving attorney general in Idaho history. He will face several opponents in the May primary, including former U.S. Rep. Raúl Labrador, who announced the week before Wasden that he would run for the post.

Wasden has more than $89,000 in cash on hand out of $121,667 raised, trailing behind Labrador’s $319,519 overall amount and more than $267,000 in cash on hand.

Neither have spent more than $30,000 so far on their campaigns, and most of the expenditures have been toward travel, food and staff wages. Labrador has also spent more than $4,000 on Littlefield Consulting LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based political communications firm.

Fellow Republican and Coeur d'Alene attorney Arthur Macomber has about $3,600 in cash on hand, having spent nearly $97,000 of his total funds raised. Of that total, $50,065 has been paid to McShane LLC, a political consulting firm in Las Vegas, Nevada, and $10,000 has gone toward broadcast advertising efforts.

Three vying for secretary of state spend mostly on advertising

Three Republican candidates have announced their candidacy for Idaho secretary of state — Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane, state Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene and state Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley.

Secretary of State Lawerence Denney has not announced if he will run for re-election.

McGrane has the most cash on hand, with close to $139,000 out of $188,000 raised. Moon has close to $90,000 in cash out of more than $121,000 raised, while Souza has about $64,600 in cash out of nearly $97,000 raised.

But McGrane has spent the most so far, with more than $48,000 spent on events, food and campaign brochures and advertisements, including the cost of printing, along with other costs for staff and travel.

Moon has spent close to $32,000 since she announced in November, about $17,500 of which went to graphic design company Kalisto Design in Moscow, Idaho.

Souza has spent more than $32,000 so far, about $8,500 of which has gone toward travel expenses and more than $3,000 toward food, with the rest spread across campaign literature and other operating expenses.

Superintendent candidate with most money has spent little of it

In the race for superintendent of public instruction, incumbent Sherri Ybarra still has not announced if she will run for re-election. Former president of the Idaho State Board of Education Debbie Critchfield, meanwhile, has raised more than $205,000 for the office, with nearly $165,000 in cash on hand. Fellow Republican Branden Durst has more than $6,300 in cash left of the $31,000 he’s raised so far, and Ybarra has raised close to $21,500 with about $10,500 in cash.

Critchfield has largely spent her dollars on campaign management services, including almost $4,100 to a company called HA Group in Star, Idaho. About $4,000 has also gone to advertising.

Durst has largely spent his $25,400 in funds on events, advertising and other operational expenses, while Ybarra has spent about $10,000, mostly on travel and broadcast advertising.

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state. As longtime Idahoans ourselves, we understand the challenges and opportunities facing Idaho. We provide in-depth reporting on legislative and state policy, health care, tax policy, the environment, Idaho’s explosive population growth and more. Our mission is relentless investigative journalism that sheds light on how decisions in Boise and beyond are made and how they affect everyday Idahoans. We aim to tell untold stories and provide data, context and analysis on the issues that matter most throughout the state. The Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. We retain full editorial independence.