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Money in politics: See who donated to who in some of the Ada County local elections


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The eye-popping fundraising for the Congressional midterms might be getting a lot of attention, but money is flowing in Ada County’s local elections too. 

BoiseDev took a look into several of Ada County’s local elections to see who is bringing in the most funds for their campaign war chests and what players are contributing to what candidates this election cycle. Races for Ada County positions like Coroner, Sheriff and Commissioner are partisan, but Ada County Highway District are non-partisan. 

Take a look at the highlights below:

ACHD Seat 3: May vs Gold

Miranda Gold. Payton Khan and Mary May appear at a BOMA event in Boise. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

Incumbent ACHD Commission President Mary May and former Eagle City Council Member Miranda Gold have both been raking in thousands in donations. 

Gold leads May with $39,000 raised and roughly $15,000 spent as of the end of September. She’s brought in donations from Democrats from several levels of government, including Rep. Colin Nash, D-Garden City, Sen. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, former Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo and former Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff. Gold also has support from 2020 ACHD candidate Emilie Jackson-Edney, Boise City Council Member Patrick Bageant and 2021 Garden City mayoral candidate and developer Hannah Ball. 

Several developers have also contributed to her campaign, including the Harris Family Limited Partnership, Casey Lynch with Roundhouse, Garden City live-work space developer Jason Jones and Scott Schoenerr. 

May is lagging behind Gold with roughly $28,000 raised and only $2,400 spent during the same period. Because May is an incumbent, she has had an active campaign open since she took office in 2018, but she did not file any campaign finance reports prior to her first $500 report on August 16 of 2022. Candidates are required to file reports for every month in the year they are running, even if they didn’t raise any funds or spend any money. 

She says at the close of her 2018 campaign she forgave the personal loan she took out for her race, which wiped out the balance on her account. This allowed her to start over with a new first $500 report and a new balance to run again, instead of filing a report for each month even when she wasn’t active. 

May sent out text messages to voters and mailers in late September, but they are not reflected in her reports. She says the spending was invoiced the first week of October and will appear on that report. 

BoiseDev asked the Ada County Clerks Elections Office if she is out of compliance and the office is still investigating as of the publication of this story. 

She has support from several major developers, including Jim Conger, David Wali, Tommy Ahlquist, several members of the Hunter family associated with Boise Hunter Homes and two top developers at Avimor. May also got donations from prominent Republicans like Garden City Mayor John Evans, House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star, Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane and Ada County GOP Chair Victor Miller. 

Donations also came in from the Idaho Association of Realtors, the Idaho Association of General Contractors and the Building Contractors of Southwest Idaho. 

Ada County Sheriff: Clifford vs. McCraw

Matt Clifford & Victor McCraw

Current Ada County Sheriff Matt Clifford is running away with the field in fundraising. 

The incumbent, who was appointed after the abrupt resignation of Sheriff Steve Bartlett last summer and now faces a special election, is leading fundraising with $74,000 raised so far and roughly $77,000 spent. He raised more than he spent because he pulled some funds he raised from the previous year, according to his reports. 

Prominent donors include Avimor developer Dan Richter and his wife, 2022 Republican Ada County Commissioner candidate Dawn Retzlaff, Meridian City Council Member Treg Bernt and Ada County Commissioners Rod Beck and Ryan Davidson Rep. James Holtzclaw, R-Meridian, Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian and Rep. John Vande Woude, R-Nampa also chipped in. 

He also got donations from the Idaho Victory Fund, a high-spending PAC run by orchard grower Chad Henggeler, developer Dave Yorgasen, Boise Hunter Homes and the Idaho Fraternal Order of Police. Mayors Trevor Chadwick and Jason Pierce also gave to his campaign. 

His opponent, Democrat Victor McCraw, came in with much lower totals. During the same period, he raised $8,500, with a little less than half from himself. McCraw took in donations from Rep. Lauren Necochea, D-Boise, Ada County Commission candidate Tricia Nilsson and Democratic candidate for District 15 Rick Just. 

County Commissioner: Beck vs. Ridgeway

Again, the incumbent carries the fundraising day in the race for Seat 2 on the Ada County Commission. 

Commissioner Rod Beck leads the pack with $48,000 raised and roughly $23,000 spent, with many prominent Republicans backing him. Beck served a long stint in the Idaho Legislature prior to becoming a commissioner and has deep ties to Idaho politics. 

He brought in donations from Meridian Mayor Robert Simison, Star Mayor Trevor Chadwick, Eagle Mayor Jason Pierce, and Garden City Mayor John Evans, as well as Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts. Clifford, who Beck has been running joint campaign materials with, also donated to his campaign along with May. Developers like Yorgasen, members of the Hunter family associated with Boise Hunter Homes, and the Building Contractors of Southwest Idaho. 

Beck also raked in donations from out-of-state groups, like STO Cazzo Holdings LLC, which is associated with an address in Sheridan, Wyoming associated with other LLCs and the Idaho Conservative Growth Fund linked to a PAC from Georgia aiming to elect Republicans who are veterans. 

His Democratic opponent Stan Ridgeway, the former Mayor of Eagle, came in behind him with $27,000 raised. Backers included ACHD Commissioner Jim Hansen, Eagle Democratic legislative candidate Shelley Brock, former Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo, and Democratic Boise State Representatives Illana Rubel and Lauren Necochea. 

Former St. Luke’s CEO David Pate, an outspoken critic of Beck’s vote to appoint Dr. Ryan Cole to the Central District Health board, also donated the maximum $1,000 allowed. 

County Commissioner: Dayley vs. Jones vs. Nilsson 

Tom Dayley, Anthony Jones and Tricia Nillson

Things are neck and neck between the Democrat and the Republic in the race for Ada County Commissioner Seat 2. 

Dayley narrowly leads the three-way race for the third seat on the Ada County Commission with roughly $33,000 raised. Donors include the Ada County Republican Women’s Club, the Coeur D’Alene Tribe, Rep. Caroline Troy, R-Genesse and Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, R-Oakley. Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, and Rep. Rick Youngblood, R-Nampa, also jumped in to support him. Like Beck, Dayley also had a sting in the Idaho Legislature prior to deciding to jump into the race to become a commissioner, giving him lots of ties to legislators for fundraising. 

About a third of his total, $10,000, came from a personal loan from himself. Dayley has spent $16,000 so far on his campaign. 

Dayley also took in donations from Ada County developers, like Richter from Avimor and members of the Hunter family associated with Boise Hunter Homes. And like Beck, he also received money from the Idaho Conservative Growth Fund, linked to an out-of-state PAC aiming to elect conservative veterans to public office. 

Nilsson wasn’t far behind him with $31,000 raised, but she out spent him with a total of $26,000 on expenditures. She took in donations from prominent Democrats, like former Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo, former gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff, Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, and Boise City Council Member Holli Woodings. Rep. Colin Nash, D-Garden City, and Rep. Lauren Necochea, D-Boise also contributed.  

She also has the backing of the Idaho Realtors PAC and former St. Lukes CEO David Pate. 

Anthony Jones, an independent candidate in the race, did not raise any funds or file any expenditures. 

ACHD Seat 4: Durrant vs. Goldthorpe 

Neil Durrant and Kent Goldthorpe

Incumbent Commissioner Kent Goldthorpe is the top fundraiser for his bid to go on to a third term on the highway commission representing south Ada County and Kuna. 

He took in roughly $21,000 and spent two-thirds of it as of the end of September. Major donors include developers like Dan Richter form Avimor and his wife, members of the Hunter family associated with Boise Hunter Homes, James Conger, former gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist, David Wali and Brighton Corp. 

Goldthorpe also had to return $5,000 from several entities associated with Harris Ranch developer Doug Fowler, as reported by the Idaho Statesman. He received $2,000 each from Harris Family Limited Partnership, Barber Valley Development, Inc., and Barber Valley Irrigation Co, pushing contributions tied back to a single entity beyond the $1,000 donation limit per donor allowed under statute. 

Campaign finance records from ACHD show Goldthorpe received donations from all three of these entities in 2014 and 2018, pushing him over the contribution limit both times. Records do not reflect donations were returned at that time. 

Goldthorpe told the Idaho Statesman he returned the donations because he did not have time to hire a lawyer and Fowler said the excess funds were returned “as soon as Kent found out there was a question.”

Neil Durrant, his opponent, raised $2,600. A thousand of it came from Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, and another thousand came from himself. He also had a donation from the Idaho Truck PAC, which is associated with the Idaho Trucking Association. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the J.A. & Kathryn Albertson Foundation as a political donor to two candidates. This story has been corrected to reflect that the donation did not donate any funds.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the wrong Ken Howell as a donor to Miranda Gold. A reference to this donor, who was actually another individual with the same name and of a similar age, has been removed from the story.

Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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