February 3, 1996 in Idaho

Chenoweth Campaign In The Red Despite Heavy Debt, She Can Still Outgun Opponent

By The Spokesman-Review

Despite fairly brisk fund-raising in the last half of 1995, U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth’s campaign finished the year heavily in debt.

Chenoweth, a Republican, raised $255,668 - much of it since July - from 1,835 individuals and 104 political action committees. But she finished the year $102,651 in debt and with only $20,716 in the bank.

Those figures come from amended campaign finance forms filed Friday with state and federal offices. Due to a computer glitch, the reports filed Wednesday incorrectly reported $51,000 cash on hand, her staff said.

The debts include $17,000 that former campaign manager Mike Duff claims is owed him. She disputes that and the issue is in arbitration, said Michelle Keller, manager of Chenoweth’s Boise campaign office.

One of the debts, $375 owed to a photographer, has been paid since the reporting period closed. The $102,651 total includes $55,500 of the $60,000 Chenoweth loaned to her 1994 campaign. It also includes $29,000 of a controversial $40,000 loan Chenoweth obtained from West One Bank.

Chenoweth originally reported the bank loan as a loan she made personally to the campaign. But last summer, her campaign then reported the money was borrowed from West One Bank.

But the loan was not secured, potentially a violation of federal law. That prompted the Idaho Democratic Party to file a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission.

Chenoweth then took out a second mortgage on her Boise home to cover the loan.

State Democrats also filed a complaint alleging Chenoweth funneled campaign funds to herself through Consulting Associates, a business she owned with Vern Ravenscroft.

Despite all of these troubles, Chenoweth still is a more potent fundraising force than her only election foe to date, Boise lawyer Dan Williams.

Williams, a Democrat, raised $74,024. About $54,000 came from 400 individuals and the rest came from political action committees, he said. His campaign, however, is debt-free and he has $45,000 cash on hand - more than twice the cash Chenoweth has.

, DataTimes

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