Rez District incumbent spent campaign money on clothes, necklace and haircut

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
[email protected]

Clothes, a necklace and a haircut are among the campaign expenses of a sitting member of the Wyoming House of Representatives vying for re-election.

Andi LeBeau, the incumbent and Democratic candidate for House District 33 in the Wyoming Legislative Assembly, said the spending represents opportunities to bring her Northern Arapaho tribal culture to the campaign trail while helping artists and indigenous workers.

LeBeau had spent $11,796 on his campaign on Monday. His opponent, Republican candidate Sarah Penn, spent roughly the same amount, $11,178, according to campaign financial reports filed with the secretary of state’s office.

Skirt, Necklace, Haircut

Some of LeBeau’s spending she attributes to the unique cultural identity of House District 33, which spans the Wind River Indian Reservation and surrounding areas. The district is legally obligated to represent a majority portion of American Indians.

She spent $80 campaign money on a haircut, $175 on at least one ribbon skirt, and $95 on a necklace. The skirt and necklace are unique tribal artwork, LeBeau said.

“I support Indigenous artists and they too are suffering,” she said. “So when I go to my forums I wear one of my collars with elk teeth – which is important for hunting. And we also believe in our gun rights; we hunt in our mountains and provide food for our families.

LeBeau said the skirts she wears are culturally significant, often tell a story, and celebrate tribal pride and culture.

The haircut was a campaign expense, she said, that impacted how she visually represents her tribe.

“I used some of my money to get my hair dyed and cut before our forums,” LeBeau said. “I take seriously looking professional, looking good, but also representing my Indigenous background.”

She said it was another opportunity to support an Indigenous person at work.

Family Campaign

More than 40% of LeBeau’s campaign spending, or $4,854, on Monday went to salary expenses.

LeBeau paid his daughter Memory Clifford $780 in salary expenses. She gave her son and ex-husband – both named Donald Clifford and indistinguishable on expense reports – a total of $1,450.

LeBeau said it was okay to work with her ex-husband, Don Clifford.

“He wants me to win, he still believes in me,” she said. “We’re friends – nothing awkward.”

She said her daughter, Memory Clifford, helped her in the last election and was a knowledgeable helper.

Others on LeBeau’s payroll include young tribal members who needed money, wanted to support her campaign and put up signs and helped with other efforts, she said.

LeBeau gave Rebecca Iron Cloud $100 for counseling, Levi Redman $800, Adrissa Posey Underwood $950 and Courtney Smith $774 for campaign work, according to his Monday financial report.

Staff members also helped with cooking and organizing big events, LeBeau said.

She said she paid people to look after her four grandchildren while she campaigned. LeBeau’s grandchildren are 3, 2, 2, and 1. She tagged $440 as a child care expense.

LeBeau’s opponent, Penn, showed no payroll expenses on Monday, despite donating $75 to Rustic Pines Photography for tips.

Crook County Favorites

Penn received thousands from Republican Party committees beyond the boundaries of his own Fremont County.

The Fremont County Republican Party Central Committee gave Penn $1,600 and the Fremont County Republican Women — a political action group — gave her $1,500.

The Crook County Republican Party Central Committee gave him $3,000. The gift was part of an expenditure of about $27,000 by the committee this year to help Republican candidates statewide and locally, while the state’s GOP Central Committee suffered in due to legal costs and internal disputes.

The Crook County GOP, meanwhile, denied money to its own Republican state Senate nominee, Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, and is support the written candidate Roger Connett instead.

Penn said she was not part of the deliberations in Crook County. She said area lawmakers asked her if she’d like to be put in “the pot” for donations, and she agreed.

“They just sent me money, I never had a match,” Penn said.

The Sheridan County Republican Party Central Committee gave Penn an additional $1,500. The Crook County Republican Women (another PAC, not a party) gave her $300.

Penn’s expenses consist primarily of printing, signage, advertising, food, entertainment, and travel.

Tribal Favorite

LeBeau is a member of the Northern Arapaho tribe; Penn is not.

The Northern Arapaho Business Council, which is the tribe’s governing executive arm, gave LeBeau $1,500 on behalf of the tribe. The amount represents nearly 6% of his $25,442 in total contributions.

“My Sovereign Tribal Leaders know that this 33-year-old House District seat is important to both tribes in many ways,” LeBeau said. “It’s important, so they gave me a donation.”

The board also decided to give Democratic U.S. House candidate Lynnette Gray Bull $1,500 and Democratic candidate for Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Sergio Maldonado an additional $1,500, according to council spokesman Matt Benson.

Both candidates, like LeBeau, are members of Northern Arapaho.

Maldonado confirmed he had received the money, but it had not yet been released in his financial report.

Report

LeBeau had $15,790 in unspent money as of Monday.

She said she still has plenty of last-minute spending to post, including a voting event at the Frank B. Wise Center in Fort Washakie scheduled for Tuesday, complete with “get-out-the-vote” t-shirts. and other goods. A radio ad has yet to be released as an expense, along with gas purchases, campaign signs and other salary expenses, she said.

Penn had $5,449 unspent on Monday.

Neither woman would comment on the nature of the other’s expenses or contributions.

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