Where is the money going this election season?
IDAHO FALLS — A significant amount of money is being spent this election season in Idaho Falls.
On Wednesday, the latest campaign financial disclosure reports were released for the mayoral race. The reports detail campaign contribution and expenditures from the start of each candidate’s campaign through Nov. 19. The reports also include the campaign contributions and expenditures from super PAC Businesses for Growth.
The final disclosure reports for candidates in the runoff election will be released to the public after Jan. 31.
The following information comes from the disclosure reports. EastIdahoNews.com is only reporting on campaign contributors who donated more than $1,000 and expenditures above $500. Cents are rounded to the nearest dollar amount. Additionally, other mayoral candidates from the Nov. 7 race are not included in this story because their final disclosure forms have not yet been released.
Mayor Rebecca Casper
Mayor Rebecca Casper is leading in both contributions and expenditures. Between Aug. 24 and Nov. 19, she raised $53,636 in monetary or in-kind donations. She used $44,684 of those contributions during the same period.
Some of Casper’s largest contributors included the Idaho Association of Realtors, Otterpac, Mountain View Hospital, Home2Suites and a number of residents, including Anne Voillequie, David and Deirdre Warden, Louise Nelson, Joanne Parker, Connie Ball, Arthur Kull and Mary Lynn Hartwell.
Casper has spent the most money on Artcore, a local advertising agency run by Dayne Dingman. About $18,559 has been paid to the company for it to handle Casper’s advertising placements on multiple platforms, print mailers, and manage her internet presence.
She also spent $12,625 with the Idaho Falls Post Register, which officially endorsed her candidacy during this election. This is the second largest amount spent at any local media organization during this election season.
Sandhill Media, a local radio company, received $5,280 from the Casper campaign, and EastIdahoNews.com received $1,500.
Some $1,141 was also paid to Nationbuilder, a California campaign software company, $856 to 123Decal in Star, and $818 to the Idaho Falls Hilton Garden Inn.
A $588.88 in-kind donation was made by Steve Taggart to purchase Facebook advertising for the campaign. Another $750 in-kind donation was made by Bonnie Taggart for the same reason.
City Councilwoman Barbara Ehardt
Councilwoman Barbara Ehardt has raised $40,411 in monetary and in-kind contributions between May 1 and Nov. 19. She spent $31,960 from her campaign chest during the same period.
Ehardt’s largest contributors are Peterson Enterprises, Cambridge Properties, TXTWire Technologies, Sports Academy Management, Doug Andrus Distributing and the following residents: Brian Lapray, Wayne & Marlene Peterson, Steve Vucovich, Doyle Beck, Lynn Beck, Greg and Susan Ehardt, Sharon Smith, Clay and Lori Murdoch, Brett Wright, Barbara Wright, Jolene Wright, and Ted and Shelly Milton.
Ehardt’s largest expense is to Coldspark, a Pennsylvania campaign consulting and creative company. Ehardt paid $11,320 to the company.
The second largest payment was made to purchase radio advertising at Idaho Falls-based Riverbend Communications. The company received $5,495.
Local printing companies Alphagraphics, Wright Signs and Snake River Printing Co. received payments of $2,410, 2,041 and $1,541, respectively.
Lamar Companies, a billboard company, received $1,500. Radio group Rich Broadcasting received $1,428 and EastIdahoNews.com received $560.
In-kind contributions of $500 were made by Cocoa Bean and New Image Car Wash for products.
In-kind contributions of $1,000 were also made by Ryan Hatch and Alissa Hatch and $500 was donated by Brock Merrill. It’s unclear what those donations were used for, and Ehardt could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Businesses for Growth
The Businesses for Growth super PAC, run by Ammon resident Adam Frugoli, is the other big spender in the Idaho Falls mayoral race.
Disclosure forms show the political action committee has raised $39,315 from several businesses between Oct. 10 and Nov. 19. During the same period, it spent $19,340 on various forms of advertising. Most of the expenses were purchased on a credit card account, which is expected to be reimbursed by the contributed amount at a later date.
The PAC’s largest contributor was Melaleuca, which donated $17,065. That company’s primary shareholder is Frank VanderSloot. Medical Recovery Services, owned by Idaho Falls attorney Bryan Smith, donated about $5,000 to the PAC, and five companies owned by local businessman Doyle Beck donated $3,000 apiece.
The PAC’s largest expenditures was for radio advertising. A total of $15,590 was spent at Riverbend Communications. This is the largest amount spent at any one local media company during this election. About $3,040 was spent on radio at Sandhill Media, and another $2,688 was spent at Rich Broadcasting.
Lamar Media, a billboard company, received $5,040 for advertising. Another billboard company, Riverbend Outdoors, received $800.
About $1,551 was spent on Facebook advertising, $800 was paid to United States Liability Company (a liability insurance company) and $1,000 was given to resident Gregory Graf. Frugoli could not be reached Wednesday to clarify why money was given to Graf.
No mayoral candidate received the 50 percent plus one vote required on Nov. 7, so a runoff election between Casper and Ehardt will be held Dec. 5. In the first election, Casper received 46.54 percent (5,357 votes) of the vote, and Ehardt received 26.57 percent (3,058 votes).