CALDWELL — Caldwell’s two runoff candidates for City Council Seat 6, former state Sen. John McGee and Idaho Democratic Party chairwoman Evangeline Beechler, each raised more campaign contributions than all of the other Caldwell City Council candidates combined.
Beechler, who lost the runoff election, collected more contributions than McGee during her campaign through Nov. 15, the cutoff date in the latest round of campaign finance reports. Beechler reported $10,137.70 in overall contributions, while McGee reported $8,522.01, according to the reports, which were due Thursday.
McGee won a place on Caldwell City Council with 2,072 votes, or 60.7%, in the Dec. 3 runoff election. Beechler earned 1,340 votes, or 39.3%.
Total contributions to McGee’s and Beechler’s campaigns won’t be known until Jan. 31, when another round of campaign finance reports are due. The most recent reports cover the period between Oct. 21 and Nov. 15, along with the total contributions each candidate had collected up to that point.
Beechler collected at least 93 individual contributions after the Nov. 5 general election, mostly in donations under $100. Flying M Coffeeshop owner Caleb McKim and Sen. Maryanne Jordan, D-Boise, contributed to her campaign. Past donors before her runoff campaign have also included Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise. Beechler collected $5,733.35 between Oct. 21 and Nov. 15.
McGee collected 11 donations between Nov. 8, the date Caldwell called for a runoff, and Nov. 15, all of which were $100 or more. He brought in $3,550 between Oct. 21 and Nov. 15.
McGee’s recent contributors include Caldwell’s former Planning and Zoning Director Brian Billingsley, Snake River Valley Building Contractors Association PAC, Stewart’s Bar and Grill in Caldwell and David Leroy, former Idaho attorney general and McGee’s legal counsel who said Caldwell’s runoff was illegal. Past donors included Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, who served alongside him at the Statehouse, and Rev. Bill Roscoe of Boise Rescue Mission Ministries.
Beechler spent $4,714.56 of her campaign funding as of Nov. 15. Some of those expenses involved advertising, campaign literature, food, general operational expenses and postage, and $2,721.96 went to the Idaho Democratic Party.
Several Caldwell residents and McGee accused Beechler of trying to turn the election into a partisan race due to her involvement with the Idaho Democratic Party. The expenditures to the party were categorized for postage; literature, brochures and printing; and wages, salaries, benefits and bonuses.
Beechler told the Idaho Press Thursday that her campaign employees were not employed by the Idaho Democratic Party, but she paid the party to run the payroll service her employees were paid through.
Beechler said she used the Idaho Democratic Party for its payroll service because it was the only one she knew of that provided that service to candidates. Lindsey Johnson, communications director for the Idaho Democratic Party, said it is standard practice for the party to offer payroll services for candidates, and the party will provide those services for any progressive candidate.
The remainder of Beechler’s expenses to the party went toward printing services for campaign literature. Beechler said the Idaho Democratic Party also has a large printer that prints campaign literature for candidates. She used the party’s printer, as well as other companies’, throughout her campaign, she said.
Chad Houck, deputy secretary of state, said by email Friday that under Idaho’s Sunshine Law, there is no legal issue with Beechler paying the Idaho Democratic Party for campaign expenses. The Sunshine Law ensures that candidates are transparent about where their expenses are going.
McGee spent $1,011 of his campaign funding as of Nov. 15. The majority of those expenditures paid for food and advertising.
McGee told the Idaho Press in an email Friday that none of his campaign expenditures went toward any local GOP organization. He said Beechler’s expenditures “speak for themselves.”
Beyond Beechler and McGee, the other Caldwell City Council candidates’ reported campaign contributions ranged from $613.60 to $1,900.
Chuck Stadick, the incumbent councilman for Seat 6 who received the fewest votes against Beechler and McGee in the general election, made $700 in contributions to his own campaign before the Nov. 5 election. Stadick spent all of the $700, mostly for advertising and repayments to himself for loans he made to his own campaign.
State Rep. Jarom Wagoner, who won the election for Seat 4 against Marine veteran Christopher Trakel, collected $1,900 for his campaign. Most of the money came from corporations, including Hubble Homes, Rocky Mountain Management and Rennison Companies Inc.
Wagoner spent $1,549.06 on his campaign, mostly on food, events and advertising.
Trakel, Wagoner’s opponent, collected $1,104.61 for his campaign. Most of his contributions came from himself, although a GoFundMe page for his campaign collected at least $80.
Trakel spent $1,080.07 on his campaign, mostly on advertising, food and events.
Chris Allgood, the incumbent councilman who ran unopposed for Seat 5, reported $40 in contributions plus a beginning cash balance of $613.60. He reported no recent contributions or expenditures.