Clothing, necklace and a haircut are among the campaign expenditures of a sitting member of the Wyoming House of Representatives vying for reelection.
Andi LeBeau, the incumbent and Democratic nominee for House District 33 in the Wyoming Legislature, said these expenditures represent opportunities to bring her Northern Arapaho tribal culture to the campaign trail while helping Indigenous artists and workers.
LeBeau had spent $11,796 on her campaign as of Monday. Her 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 expenses 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 of campaign money on a haircut, $175 on at least one ribbon skirt and $95 on a necklace. The skirt and necklace are uniquely tribal works of art, said LeBeau.
“I support Indigenous artists and they are hurting too,” she said. “So, when I go to my forums I wear one of my necklaces that have elk teeth on there – which is big for hunting. And we believe in our gun rights too; 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 represents her tribe visually.
“I used some of my money to get my hair dyed and cut before our forums,” said LeBeau. “I take it seriously to look professional, to look good, but also to represent my Indigenous background.”
She said this was another opportunity to support an Indigenous person at work.
More than 40% of LeBeau’s campaign expenditures, or $4,854, as of Monday, had gone to payroll expenses.
LeBeau paid her daughter Memory Clifford $780 in payroll expenses. She gave her son and her ex-husband – both named Donald Clifford and indistinguishable on the expense reports – a combined $1,450.
LeBeau said it is not awkward working with her ex-husband, Don Clifford.
“He wants me to win, he believes in me still,” she said. “We’re friends – nothing awkward.”
She said her daughter, Memory Clifford, helped her during past elections and is a knowledgeable helper.
Other people on LeBeau’s payroll include young tribal members who needed money, who wanted to support her campaign and who have been putting up signs and helping with other efforts, she said.
LeBeau gave Rebecca Iron Cloud $100 for consulting, Levi Redman $800, Adrissa Posey Underwood $950 and Courtney Smith $774 for campaign work, according to her financial report as of Monday.
Staffers also have helped to cook for and organize large events, said LeBeau.
She said she has paid people to care for her four grandchildren while she’s campaigning. LeBeau’s grandchildren are ages 3, 2, 2 and 1. She has labelled $440 as spending for child care.
LeBeau’s opponent Penn showed no payroll expenses as of Monday, though she gave $75 to Rustic Pines Photography for consulting.
Crook County Favorite
Penn received thousands from Republican Party committees beyond the confines of her own county of Fremont.
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 her $3,000. The gift was part of a roughly $27,000 expense by the committee this year to help Republican candidates statewide and locally, while the state GOP Central Committee has been ailing because of legal costs and internal disputes.
The Crook County GOP, meanwhile, has denied money to its own Republican nominee in the state Senate, Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, and is backing write-in candidate Roger Connett instead.
Penn said she wasn’t part of the deliberations in Crook County. She said legislators in the area asked her if she’d like to be put in “the pot” for donations, and she agreed.
“They just sent me money, I didn’t ever have a correspondence,” said Penn.
The Sheridan County Republican Party Central Committee gave Penn another $1,500. The Crook County Republican Women (another PAC, not a party) gave her $300.
Penn’s expenses consist mostly of printing, signage, advertising, food, entertainment and travel.
LeBeau is a Northern Arapaho Tribal member; Penn is not.
The Northern Arapaho Business Council, which is the executive governing branch of the tribe, gave LeBeau $1,500 on the tribe’s behalf. The amount is nearly 6% of her $25,442 in contributions total.
“My sovereign tribal leaders know that this House District seat, 33, is important to both tribes in a lot of ways,” said LeBeau. “It’s important, so they gave a donation to me.”
The council also resolved to give U.S. House Democratic candidate Lynnette Grey Bull $1,500 and the Democratic nominee for Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction, Sergio Maldonado, another $1,500, according to council spokesman Matt Benson.
Both candidates, like LeBeau, are Northern Arapaho members.
Maldonado confirmed that he’d received the money, but it hadn’t yet posted to his financial report.
LeBeau on Monday had $15,790 in unspent money.
She said she has many last-minute expenses yet to post, including a get-out-the-vote event at the Frank B. Wise Center in Fort Washakie slated for Tuesday, with “get-out-the-vote” T-Shirts and other wares. A radio ad hasn’t yet posted as an expense, along with some gasoline purchases, campaign signs and more payroll expenses, she said.
Penn on Monday had $5,449 unspent.
Neither woman wanted to comment on the nature of the other’s expenditures or contributions.