The ongoing onslaught of Kansas Republican against Kansas Republican continues, and today the Topeka Capital Journal reports it entered a whole new phase as Kris Kobach (Secretary of State, lead ALEC drafter) found his private PAC (The Prairie Fire PAC) in the troubling position of having been caught red handed financing attack ads against sitting Republicans who just aren't right-leaning enough.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach's political action committee sent out mailers seeking to influence at least two House Republican primaries this week, without reporting the spending on campaign finance reports.
Rep. Russ Jennings, R-Lakin, and Rep. Kent Thompson, R-LaHarpe, both said Monday that Kobach's Prairie Fire PAC was active in their races with a mailer blasting Jennings and another endorsing Thompson's opponent in Tuesday's primary.
The expenditures aren’t reported on the PAC's last campaign finance filing from July 28 and the PAC hasn’t added a "last-minute" filing required for pre-primary contributions and spending.
Employees of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission said Monday evening they had yet to see a last-minute filing from Prairie Fire but one might appear later Monday night, or even Tuesday morning, the day of the primary.
Under the current rules, all expenditures in primary must be reported when it is spent, especially this close to the close of the primary season. However, there are late filing reports that can come in. Still, Kobach's Prairie Fire PAC is truly testing the line as the mailers - which must have been sent a few days ago and paid for before then would have been an expenditure that could have been accounted for in time for candidates who face them to identify who their behind the scenes opponent really was.
As of 6 p.m. Monday, the only spending his PAC had reported for the year was $20 to register with the governmental ethics commission.That's right. The man in charge of overseeing the validity of Kansas Elections, the same one so upset with the idea of corrupting the vote that he has worked on a dual track voting process is now hoisted on his own petard as people wonder how did these expensive and broad mailers come out of a PAC that had prior not filed any expenditure more than $20?
Jennings said the Prairie Fire mailer dropped in his district over the weekend and it castigates him for voting against a bill that supporters said promoted religious freedom but opponents said would have sanctioned discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Jennings faces Stan Rice in the Republican primary.
Sen. Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said the spending by Kobach's PAC shouldn’t go unreported before primary day.
“It's worth looking into to see if our chief elections officer has violated Kansas law by not reporting this in a timely manner," Hensley said. "It's certainly something I would be interested in pursuing with the ethics commission.”
Kobach originally got into some trouble when he formed his Prairie Fire PAC in 2012:
Kobach formed the Prairie Fire PAC on Feb. 15 and listed himself as chairman, according to an organization statement he signed and filed with the state Governmental Ethics Commission. The statement doesn’t list an affiliation with any group and describes Prairie Fire as a “leadership PAC.”
Prairie Fire’s creation went unnoticed at the Statehouse until Monday, when The Associated Press saw Prairie Fire’s name on an online list of PACs maintained by the ethics commission. By forming a PAC, Kobach can raise funds and spend money on political activities outside his own campaign committee.
And then increased that criticism when they changed the rules to prevent Democrats from forming their own leadership PACs.
Senate Bill 274 passed 31-6. If it becomes law, it will eliminate the three existing PACs.Ah, yes. Leadership PACs are unethical for house members Democrats shouldn't be able to have them. So we ban them for house members.
Republicans contend that it is unfair for Democrats to raise money while House Republicans cannot. Additionally, they have accused leadership PACs of undermining the electoral process.
Except, of course for the one Kris Kobach and State officers, who apparently can use them in great volume to bash in the heads of Republicans who aren't all the way with him.
Interesting how that works.