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McLean to announce she won’t take corporate donations for mayoral campaign

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Boise Mayoral Election

Boise City Council President and mayoral candidate Lauren McLean will announce her campaign will not accept corporate or corporate political action committee donations.

“I have never let a donation influence a vote or decision: that’s fundamentally against my values as a leader. But I want the people of Boise to have absolute clarity on this point, that I am accountable to the voters alone.”

BoiseDev’s database of campaign donations shows McLean did take this type of donation for the last election cycle – including names like CenturyLink, Micron Technology, Ahlquist Development and others.

Change of role, change of policy

McLean said two factors influenced her decision. “As I’m hearing from folks in the community, they really had concerns about influence and transparency in city hall.”

She said the change of office from city council member to mayor also prompted the change.

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“As a council member I take votes, so one can clearly can see my donations and the votes I take, and I have accountability around that,” she said. “As mayor, you aren’t voting, and I want to bring transparency to the process of setting the agenda and setting the vision for the city. I think it’s the right thing to do.”

[Ahead of mayoral run, a look at McLean’s 2015 campaign donations]

In Boise’s ‘strong mayor’ model of governance, the mayor only votes in the event of a tie on the six-member city council. The city website notes the mayor “works full-time, managing the day-to-day operations of the city and providing leadership and policy direction to the city council.”

In addition to individuals, McLean told BoiseDev she would accept money from issue and advocacy groups, including groups like Planned Parenthood or fire unions – two examples we specifically asked about. But the campaign will not take any business donations at any level.

“This isn’t to say businesses are bad, at all,” she said. “This is about ensuring the campaign is people focused, and we are for transparency.”

Other candidates’ self-imposed restrictions

Current sitting mayor Dave Bieter also accepted this type of donation during the 2015 election cycle. So far in the 2019 election cycle, in reporting through the end of 2018, Bieter accepted donations from a variety of corporate donors, including CenturyLink, Albertsons and Brighton Corp.

We asked Bieter campaign representative Jesse Maldonado if the campaign would put any limits on campaign donations, outside of applicable laws.

“Campaign finance reports are due in October which will show that our campaign has received hundreds of donations, some even as small as $1, from every corner of Boise,” Maldonado said. “Our campaign is proud to not accept donations from payday lending institutions or tobacco companies.”

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[The Mayors: With the election looming, who funded De Weerd & Bieter?]

In response to the same question, Matt Kilburn also said his campaign would not accept corporate donations.

Adriel Martinez said he would not accept dollars from what he termed “big corporations,” but might take money from smaller businesses. He also said he set a limit of $500 per contribution – half the state-mandated limit. He said he would not take donations from developers or those in the real estate field.

“When you take money from them, you are beholden to them – and I’m not beholden to anyone,” Martinez said.

McLean says she doesn’t think the voluntary donation restriction will put her at a disadvantage to Bieter’s financial resources.

Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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