Greenbacks shape campaigns

  • Joe Waldholtz


Dollars continue to plague and divide candidates. For Idaho Republican Rep. Helen Chenoweth, misuse of money has become a potential Achilles' heel. According to the state's Democratic Party, Chenoweth's campaign illegally hired a company she owns. Now, Chenoweth won't say why her campaign paid $35,000 for rent and office space to her Consulting Associates although it also rented a cheaper and larger office nearby. "It's not that I can't remember," she told the Spokesman Review. "It's that I don't want to say anything until I know that it's accurate."

In Utah, charges of campaign finance fraud have caused troubles for another high-profile first-year Republican. On March 5, Rep. Enid Waldholtz announced that she will become the 43rd congressperson to retire this year. Charges are pending against Waldholtz, who blames her husband, Joe, for stealing money and illegally diverting it to her campaign - without her knowledge. Waldholtz said she needs time off to deal with legal problems.

In Colorado, the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Hank Brown has divided Democrats over the ethics of accepting PAC money. Candidate Gene Nichol vowed to run a campaign free of Political Action Committee contributions, saying, "Polluters have bought one of the most anti-environmental Congresses in history." Contenders Phil Perington and state Sen. Paul Weissman followed suit, but Denver attorney Tom Strickland and Denver councilwoman Ramona Martinez refused to bar PAC money. They are now the front-runners, with Strickland leading the polls.

Strickland says he has to play the PAC game in order to beat the Republican - either Wayne Allard, a congressman from Loveland, or state attorney general Gale Norton. Neither champions environmental causes.

In Oregon just a month ago, most Democrats favored feisty populist Rep. Peter DeFazio in the race to replace retiring Sen. Mark Hatfield. But DeFazio backed out, citing money. Apparently he didn't want to compete against millionaires Tom Bruggere and Harry Lonsdale in the Democratic primary, or millionaire Republican Gordon Smith in the general election. A front-runner for the May 21 primary has yet to emerge.