Republican Rep. Helen Chenoweth raised more than a quarter-million dollars during the final half of 1997 to open a campaign in the black for the first time in her congressional career.
The campaign finance disclosure report filed with the secretary of state Friday showed the two-term conservative raised $265,000 last summer and fall to leave her with a cash balance of nearly $110,000 and third-party debts of just $7,500.
Chenoweth is being challenged for the GOP nomination in the 1st District by Coeur d’Alene businessman Tony Paquin. Democrat Dan Williams is gearing up for a second run at the incumbent in November after losing by 6,500 votes in 1996.
At the beginning of 1996, Chenoweth reported just $20,000 in the bank and third-party debts of more than $47,000. She eventually raised and spent more than $1 million.
In 1994, Chenoweth sold off a piece of property in Orofino in a controversial deal with the founder of Melaleuca Inc. to lend $60,000 to her campaign.
She collected $4,500 of that loan after defeating two-term Democrat Larry LaRocco in 1994 and then paid herself another $3,750 over the next six months, but did not disclose the repayments.
Campaign spokesman Graham Patterson said the repayments were misrecorded as expense reimbursement to Chenoweth and the mistake was only recently discovered. Patterson said the 10 disclosure reports filed in 1995, 1996 and the first half of 1997 will all be amended to reflect the repayment.