Local column: Follow the money

Looking into the three GOP gubernatorial candidates’ campaign contributions gives some insight into their political leanings and influences, write Carrie and Jerry Scheid.

Carrie: Who ya’ voting for Governor?

Jerry: Aren’t we rushing things? The election isn’t until November 2018.

Carrie: But in Idaho, the May Republican primary is where most of our governors get elected these days. Sad to say, we’re pretty much a one party state.

Jerry: Who are the major Republican candidates?

Carrie: For governor, it’s Brad Little, Raul Labrador and Tommy Ahlquist. I’ve just finished looking at their campaign finance reports for the first half of 2017. “Following the money” tells you a lot about them.

Jerry: They’re already raising money?

Carrie: Altogether, over $1.5 million in the first six months this year.

Jerry: Wow! Where did all that money come from?

Carrie: Let’s start with Congressman Raul Labrador. His official campaign, which began in early May, has generated $309,000 from 203 donors. The donations range from several $10,000 gifts to $1 from some guy in Georgia. Interestingly, over 42 percent ($131,506) of his donations came from out of state, mostly from other Congressmen, PAC’s and individuals.

Jerry: Who’s supporting him in eastern Idaho?

Carrie: His largest donors over here are Doyle and Lynn Beck with $5,000 each, attorney Bryan Smith with $5,000, the Smith Group (auto dealerships) with $2,000 and Senator Dean Mortimer with $1,000.

Jerry: Has Labrador raised the most money?

Carrie: No. Tommy Ahlquist, who started in January, has raised the most at $952,531. But $378,271 is money he loaned to his campaign. Donations total $574,260 from over 550 donors. His largest is $8,500 from Harry Bettis of Emmett, Idaho.

Jerry: How much of his money came from out of state?

Carrie: He received $116,875 or 20 percent of his donations (not counting his loan) outside of Idaho. All but $750 came from northern Utah.

Jerry: Well, he grew up in northern Utah. Who are his eastern Idaho donors?

Carrie: He’s raised a bunch of money here. His $5,000 donors include Teton Honda, Teton Hyundai, Community Care-Westside, Community Care-Channing, Cortney and Jenny Liddiard ($5,000 each,) Stephanie Mickelsen, Kirk and Rebecca Hansen ($5,000 each) and Richard Smith of Rexburg.

Jerry: How is Lieutenant Governor Brad Little doing?

Carrie: During the first six months, he raised $229,501 from over 870 donors. In addition, he had $334,000 on hand. His largest donation is $10,000 from the “Winning for Idaho” PAC. His two smallest $1 donations came from a guy in Burley and someone in California.

Jerry: Hmmm… his large pool of small donors suggests strong grass roots support. How’s he doing in eastern Idaho?

Carrie: His largest donors here are Senator Jeff Siddoway $5,000; Mountain States Properties in Blackfoot, $1,500; Fluor Corporation $1,000; and former state representatives Lee Gagner and Doug Hancey, $500 each. For the record, the Fluor Corp. contribution came from their corporate office in D.C.

Jerry: It’s fascinating to see where their money comes from. Will Rogers once said “A fool and his money are soon elected!”

Carrie: Very funny. Don’t people want to know where candidates stand on important issues?

Jerry: Which brings us to the August 24 Idaho Falls City Club Forum where the three Republican candidates will speak. I’m especially happy to plug City Club since I’m the board president!

It starts at noon in ISU’s Tingey Auditorium, University Place. To reserve a box lunch and seat, go to www.ifcityclub.com

Carrie: Mark Twain once said “We have the best government money can buy.” Let’s hope that won’t happen in Idaho.

Jerry is a retired farmer/rancher and native Idahoan. Carrie is a retired nonprofit administrator. They live in Idaho Falls.