Dogged for nearly a year by U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth’s multiplying campaign finance irregularities, the most recent disclosed in a July 9 document, the state Republican Party on Monday moved to shift the attention to Democratic challenger Dan Williams.
Idaho GOP Chairman Ron McMurray accused Williams of accepting $5,000 more than the legally allowed $10,000 contribution from the National Education Association and illegally accepting a relatively small contribution for the primary campaign 3-1/2 weeks after the May 28 primary occurred.
“These are serious infringements that go beyond clerical errors,” McMurray declared. “I am sure that the Federal Election Commission will be interested in hearing what excuses Dan Williams comes up with this time.”
Chenoweth campaign officials have claimed that a number of irregularities on their disclosure statements - including some that involve transactions with a business Chenoweth was a partner in - were inexplicable mistakes.
The state Democratic Party has asked the federal commission to investigate the possibility that Chenoweth funneled campaign money through the business to her own pocket. Chenoweth has denied any wrongdoing.
The allegations against Williams involve federal rules limiting special interest contributions like the National Education Association’s to $5,000 for primary and $5,000 for general elections - a total of $10,000 in each House election cycle. They also involve rules that preclude contributions made after an election from being designated toward that election’s limit unless the candidate carried a debt out of the election. Williams has no debts to date.
Campaign finance records filed with the secretary of state showed Williams receiving $5,000 on May 10 designated for the primary and $5,000 on June 28 for the general election. Then a special report required when large contributions are received less than three weeks before balloting showed a $5,000 contribution dated May 14. That special report, dated May 16, must be filed within 48 hours of the money’s receipt.
Williams said the pre-primary contributions are one in the same. The check was dated May 10 and received by the committee May 14, he said. The post-primary contribution of $100 designated for the primary campaign was an error, he said.
“They’re obviously trying to do damage control for Helen Chenoweth because of the pattern of blatant violations of federal election law on Chenoweth’s part,” Williams said. “Being accused of FEC violations by somebody representing Helen Chenoweth is like being called ugly by a toad.”
McMurray’s allegations followed the Chenoweth campaign’s filing of a fifth revision to its mid-1995 financial disclosure report. It acknowledged that for nearly a year the campaign had under-reported the March 8, 1995, contribution from a joint GOP fundraiser it identified as Salute To Western Freshman.
Until this month, the campaign had maintained that it got less than $4,700 from the fund-raiser. But after being asked to detail the interests that accounted for the cash, the campaign admitted this month that it had received over $5,600, almost $5,000 from special interest committees.
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