Despite having one of the largest third-party debts of any freshman Republican in the House, Idaho’s conservative Rep. Helen Chenoweth is trailing her colleagues in fund raising this year.
A new analysis of campaign finance reports for the first half of 1995 shows that the average amount of campaign cash raised from January through June by the 50 House GOP freshmen was $142,000 - $20,000 more than Chenoweth managed to generate.
The largess showered on freshmen who catapulted the GOP into the majority for the first time in 40 years was largely a result of special interest political action committees trying to compensate for having invested huge sums in Democrats over the past four decades.
“Now they are playing catch-up, unashamedly,” said Steven Stockmeyer, a Republican who runs an association of business PACs. “That’s one reason you’re seeing the big numbers.”
The $122,000 Chenoweth did raise was substantially greater than the amounts raised by Republican Rep. Michael Crapo, Idaho’s other congressman, and by the man she defeated, two-term Democrat Larry LaRocco, during his first six months in office.
But much of that cash was plowed into fund raising, and little progress was made on retiring Chenoweth’s substantial debt to creditors other than herself.
That debt rose dramatically earlier this month when her campaign treasurer, Wayne Crow, acknowledged that $40,000 misrepresented on federal reports for eight months as a personal loan from Chenoweth actually was a loan from West One Bank.
The last reports on which the loan was misrepresented also indicated that it was neither secured by collateral nor guaranteed by any individuals - a requirement under federal law for campaign loans made by banks. Without one or the other, the loan could be viewed as an illegal corporate contribution.
With that additional $40,000, Chenoweth still owes third-party creditors nearly $100,000 from her 1994 campaign. She also owes herself $55,500.
Only five other freshman Republicans have larger campaign debts than Chenoweth, but hers is the exception to the general rule that those debts primarily are owned to the congressmen themselves or were carried over from previous - and unsuccessful - political races.
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