Enzi, Cheney call old friends for cash in Wyoming U.S. Senate race

2013-10-27T11:00:00Z 2013-11-13T19:40:09Z Enzi, Cheney call old friends for cash in Wyoming U.S. Senate raceBy KYLE ROERINK Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

Sen. Mike Enzi and Liz Cheney are taking separate paths to raise money in their Senate Republican primary race.

Enzi is using political action committees. Cheney is using a network of donors with deep pockets.

In a race where the candidates are touting who has the most ties to Wyoming, both are flush with cash from outside the state.

Cheney has currently raised more money than her opponent, and the majority of her contributors are from out of state, according to Federal Election Commission donor reports. She received money from nearly 2,000 individuals, but only 260 were from Wyoming. Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, raised $1.027 million in her first three months as a candidate. Twenty-five percent of her contributions were from the Cowboy State.

Enzi has received more money from a different type of donor. Of the 900 donations he received, 600 were from Wyoming. But the majority of the money came from PACs. Of the 300 out-of-state contributions,

230 came from PACs. Thirteen percent of the $847,646 came from Wyoming donors.

PAC money has always been Enzi’s primary source of campaign funding, said Sheila Krumholz, executive director for the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan Washington think tank that keeps tabs on federal elections.

PACs from Ford, General Motors, Wal-Mart, Google, Goldman Sachs and Arch Coal all donated to Enzi. The Gula Graham Group and Capitol Hill Partners, two consulting firms that are establishments in Washington donor circles, also contributed to Enzi.

“There’s a trick to getting PAC money,” Enzi said. “You have to have done things that show you are interested in their issue. A PAC isn’t a company. It’s people within the company that donate. I’ve been pleased with the percentage that is glad to have me back there.”

Data from the Center for Responsive Politics show that 84 percent of Enzi’s campaign money has come from PACs since 2009.

“He’s a natural target for PACs,” Krumholz said. “He’s the sitting member. PACs are interested in betting on a winner because most of the time incumbents win. They also want to give to an incumbent because lawmakers in office can vote on their legislation right now.”

Cheney has refused funding from any PAC so far in the race. PAC money donated to her campaign was returned to the donor, according to FEC reports.

“The focus of the campaign has not been raising money,” said Bill Thomson, a Cheney campaign co-chairman and Cheyenne lawyer. “We haven’t been beating bushes in D.C. and contacting industries to raise money. We’ve been putting together a state organization and going around the state talking to people. We’re not always asking for money at events around the state. The senator might have a greater focus on raising money and raising it fast.”

Thomson, a former Enzi donor, said he received a three-page letter from Enzi asking him to donate $2,600 — the maximum amount an individual can give to a campaign. Enzi expressed in the letter that it was going to be a tough campaign, Thomson said.

“I guess they didn’t know I work for Liz,” he said.

Cheney has yet to do a mass-mailing to potential donors in the state.

The brunt of Cheney’s Wyoming money came from donors in Jackson and Wilson — the area of the state where Cheney moved in May 2012. Many of the Wyoming contributors were either retired or bankers.

Outside donors with longstanding ties to the Cheney family and national elections shelled out money in hopes of seeing Cheney oust Enzi.

Florida donor Mel Sembler, a fundraiser for George W. Bush’s campaigns, donated to the Cheney camp along with oil magnates and Bush donors T. Boone Pickens and Laurence Simmons. Two family members of Foster Friess, the well-known conservative donor and Jackson resident, also donated to Cheney.

Familiar faces from American politics also showed up on Cheney’s FEC report. Bush administration Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld donated along with Bush-appointed Attorney General Michael Mukasey. Dick and Lynn Cheney also contributed. Mary Cheney, Liz’s sister, did not.

Cheney’s move to decline PAC money early in the game seems like a political maneuver, Krumholz said.

“Maybe she’s trying to say you can’t buy me and I won’t be beholden to the special interest,” she said. “But seeing some of the richest and most interesting names in politics on the donor list might conflict with that.”

Enzi’s had six Wyoming legislators contribute along with former Wyoming U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson and former U.S. Rep. William Brewster, D-Okla.

The owner of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, John Kemmerer III, donated to both candidates.

Pundits aren’t surprised at where the money is coming from and are looking to see who will be on top when the next report is due in January. The Cheney namesake is a magnet for money, while Enzi’s three terms in office have made him a well-known figure on the beltway, said Bill Novotny, a political strategist based in Wyoming.

“You would expect to see Liz’s donation page look like a who’s who of Republican donors. Her family has been in D.C. since 1978,” he said. “You would also expect that Enzi would have support from the PACs. He has been in Washington for 18 years and has a network of former aides on K Street.”

Residency status is one of the biggest talking points so far in the race and may factor into campaign contributions down the road for both candidates.

Big-name donors and PACs are nice, Novotny said. “But I’ll take the guy who writes 50-dollar checks and knocks on doors in his precinct every week,” he said.

Neither Enzi nor Cheney was born in the state. Enzi touts more than 35 years in Wyoming as a businessman, mayor, state legislator and congressman. Cheney spent parts of grade school and middle school in the state but left when her father was elected to Congress. She moved back to the state full time in 2012. Her mother’s side of the family has deep ties to the state, giving Cheney the credo to call herself a fourth-generation Wyomingite on the campaign trail.

The political makeup of the race is easy to pinpoint no matter what angle the two are trying to take, Krumholz said.

“It’s two insiders presumably competing to be the hometown favorite,” she said.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(12) Comments

  1. CheyenneGuy
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    CheyenneGuy - October 28, 2013 2:57 pm
    It's not slander if it's true. Everything I've said about Sembler is easily found in many valid news sources including 60 Minutes. He's a far right drug warrior who has advocated a drug war that has cost our nation billions with little result. Sembler and his crusading wife have made a lot of money over the years with questionable rehab schemes. Sembler was also one of the major donors who fought legalization in Colorado. His support for war on Iran is also public record. One need not look further than Google to find out who the real Mel Sembler is. Who is Liz going to answer to?
  2. CheyenneGuy
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    CheyenneGuy - October 28, 2013 2:53 pm
    Nothing I've said about Mel Sembler isn't true. This is a guy who has an inordinate amount of influence in the Cheney's lives and has funded many of their projects since the Cheney left DOD. Sembler was a key backer of Liz's secretive Keep America Safe project. When will Liz release the donor list for that org? Who is pulling her strings? The fact that Liz has tobacco and energy lobbyists like Bill Thompson and Dave Picard working for her while she decries "special interests" is laughable. When Picard was working for Barbara Cubin he sure didn't mind accepting PAC money. Liz's account is full of special interest money from folks who don't live in Wyoming. Get real.
  3. Sample307
    Report Abuse
    Sample307 - October 28, 2013 12:06 pm
    The delegation meets earnestly together, coordinates, and then saunters out and accomplishes nothing. Zippo.

    Who cares if they like each other -- they are ineffective both individually and as a group.

    Can they stop EPA? Nope. Are they accepting the Obamacare special deal subsidy? Yep. Do they take campaign contributions from lobbyists? yep. Did they stop the misspending of stimulus money in Wyoming? Nope. Can they stop Obama from tearing up our contitutional rights? Nope. Are they useful for anything? Nope. Do they think they are entitled to keep their seats. Most definitely, yes.

    We need effective leaders, not people that participate in the Obamacare Gang of Six, propose new tax legislation on the internet, or renounce their anti-tax pledges. Time for a change.
  4. pappy
    Report Abuse
    pappy - October 28, 2013 9:28 am
    And we wonder why they don't represent WY
  5. side oiler
    Report Abuse
    side oiler - October 28, 2013 7:34 am
    There is very little doubt,to sane people anyway.why America needs it's collective tail kicked for allowing these money grubbing monsters to take control of politics.This is not just a Wyoming problem,it is an American problem.If you people allow another Cheney into office in this state, you deserve all that you will get from these carpetbagging clowns.Which is nothing,unless of course you are one of the rich string pullers.America will go the way of the Roman Empire and all of you have allowed it to happen.
  6. QB14
    Report Abuse
    QB14 - October 28, 2013 6:54 am
    Here's a little friendly advice. First, you might want to be a little careful about slandering individuals in the press or a public forum. Second, you might want to read up on Wyoming farming; you will find that adopting the views of environmental activists like the Sierra Club won't make you too popular our state's agricultural sector -- including with many farmers and ranchers who vote.
  7. Energy Voter
    Report Abuse
    Energy Voter - October 28, 2013 6:23 am
    Nothing like the politics of personal destruction eh? You resemble the Clintons.
  8. Energy Voter
    Report Abuse
    Energy Voter - October 28, 2013 6:21 am
    It's one thing to take money from out-of-state conservative donors who have long supported Reagan and other conservative causes (as Liz Cheney did). It's another thing to take money from PACs run by Washington DC lobbyists who have business before the sitting Senator. The vast majority of Enzi's money is from PACs who want to influence him. Cheney refused to accept PAC money.

    Mike Enzi took an immense amount of money from lobbyists. He has -- yes this is verifiably true -- the HIGHEST percentage of his money from PAC contributions of any U.S. Senator. More than ANY OTHER U.S. Senator. In other words, he is MORE DEPENDENT on Washington DC establishment money than all 99 other Senators!!!!. if he is reelected, they will call in all their favors. And it's not even close -- Enzi is worse than any other Senator by at leat 10%.

    Yes, less than 15% of ENzi's campaign money comes from Wyoming donors. And he has been in office more than 16 years. After 16 years, doesn't he have loyal Wyoming donors? If you don't believe Enzi is uniquely bad -- look at Barrasso's numbers. He has vastly less DC PAC money than Enzi.

    This type of dependency is vey bad for our state. To put it simply: Mr. Enzi has been in Washington TOO LONG. We need term limits. Three 6 year terms should be enough!!!.

  9. dthrogmorton
    Report Abuse
    dthrogmorton - October 27, 2013 9:30 pm
    This is actually pretty sad. Wyoming's senatorial races are now out of the hands of Wyoming citizens. $1.07 million in the first quarter? This will get ratcheted up very quickly and regardless of who wins the seat the real winners will be the out of state donors and PACS who promoted their successful candidate. I am afraid that Liz Cheney's ambitions have altered Wyoming permanently. We have struggled for generations against the influence of external control, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, but the domination of our political races by outside money will never be turned back once the precedent is established. What a disappointment.
  10. CheyenneGuy
    Report Abuse
    CheyenneGuy - October 27, 2013 8:01 pm
    If you look at Liz's donor list the vast majority of her donors are out of state bankers and executives who gave heavily to Bush Cheney. I noticed her aide Kara Ahern donated and claims to live in Wyoming but by most accounts is a legal resident of Andover, MA. It's also nice to see Amb. Mel Sembler on the list. Some of you may remember him from the 60 Minutes profile that discussed the multiple lawsuits against him and his "drug rehab" businesses. He was even prosecuted at one time but slipped through the wheels of justice. If I recall correctly he did pay many lawsuit settlements including some for false imprisonment. Some called his rehab centers a "cult". Sembler is a backer of war against Iran and has funneled a lot of money into Cheney Inc. over the years. I also wasn't surprised to see a Monsanto lawyer give to Liz since her husband is also a lawyer for Monsanto. Liz's shady out-of-state donors will come to light as the election progresses. Looks like the regular folks aren't kicking in for her foray into Wyoming politics.
  11. thehousemouse
    Report Abuse
    thehousemouse - October 27, 2013 1:02 pm
    who else is running, i would ike to know who they are and where to donant? i think we need a real shake up in wyoming. someone new but yet has been here all their lives and knows what wyoming really is about. The people have become disenchanted with professional politicians, they are hungering for the common man with intergrity and i have yet to meet more then one in my life time.
  12. Cody Coyote
    Report Abuse
    Cody Coyote - October 27, 2013 12:31 pm
    By the time this dogfight is over, a minimum of $ 5 million will have been spent in Wyoming to decide which of the two is the least awful candidate.

    The silver lining is ' out of control political advertising expenditure ' is one definition in the Wyoming dictionary of " Economic Development". Hey, it's also another $ 200,000 in Sales Tax revenue , and creates at least two jobs. Maybe four.
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