Idaho Power was the top corporate contributor to Idaho political campaigns in 2014, according to a review of campaign finance records in Idaho races from state Legislature up through Congress by Idaho Statesman reporter Bill Dentzer. Corporate campaign contributions for the year were dominated by interests in agriculture, energy and natural resources, and financial service-related companies including insurers and real estate, he found, with combined giving from those sectors accounting for more than one-third of all business giving.
Those sectors represented $3.4 million of the total $9.4 million donated by businesses and organized groups. Individuals gave $11.3 million, contributions under $50 added another $1.1 million, and the total came to $21.8 million. Of that, $7.2 million came from interests outside Idaho.
Dentzer reports that Idaho Power gave nearly $133,000 to candidates statewide, followed by Melaleuca, the Idaho Falls-based direct retail sales company, at just more than $111,000. Coming in third was the Club for Growth, the Washington, D.C.-based conservative policy group whose entire contribution of $109,000 went to one candidate, Bryan Smith, who lost in a Republican primary against U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson. Partisan giving by corporate interests ran nearly 12 to 1 in favor of Republican candidates and causes.
If it seems surprising that individual contributions were higher than corporate ones in total, there’s a reason: A.J. Balukoff. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate gave $3.6 million to his unsuccessful campaign in 2014. Dentzer’s full report is online here.