Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s campaign spent more than $167,000 in legal fees last year, when a federal grand jury was investigating loans to his re-election effort, a finance report filed Friday shows.
The report also shows the governor made a final $100,000 repayment last month on loans from his running mate to their 2014 re-election campaign that were the subject of the federal investigation. No charges were filed.
Three loans from Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer totaling $1.5 million attracted attention on the campaign trail because loans in such large amounts are rare in Kansas political races, and because the first two loans were repaid within days. Democrats have speculated the loans might have been timed to inflate campaign finance reports. They came as the Republican governor in deeply conservative Kansas faced the prospect of losing to the well-financed Democratic challenger, Paul Davis.
The campaign also repaid the governor and his wife $100,000 last month – half of what they loaned to the campaign in October 2014.
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The Brownback campaign listed the transactions in a finance report filed Friday, covering all of last year.
His campaign received nearly $578,000 in contributions last year as it continued fundraising following his re-election to pay legal fees and other debts. It spent $574,000. The campaign reported it had $51,385 left at the end of the year.
Brownback’s spokeswoman, Eileen Hawley, did not address specific questions about the report, saying in an e-mail that the campaign filing was “conducted in full compliance with applicable law and ethics regulations.”
Davis, an attorney who went back to practicing law after the race, said Friday that his campaign did not incur any legal fees. He called the more than $167,000 that the Brownback campaign paid to various law firms last year “a lot of money” for legal fees.
“As somebody who is a practicing lawyer, I can tell you that is a lot of attorney time,” Davis said. “It is hard to determine what exactly those fees were related to, but clearly there was a lot of attorney time that was being spent on something.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in June it had completed its investigation into loans made to Brownback’s re-election campaign by his lieutenant governor and planned to bring no criminal charges.
Earlier finance reports indicate that Colyer made his first $500,000 loan on Dec. 31, 2013, the last day covered by a finance report due in early January 2014. It was repaid on Jan. 2, 2014.
Colyer then made a second $500,000 loan on July 23, 2014, the second-to-last day covered by a finance report due in late July of that year. That loan was repaid two days later, when a new reporting period started.
The third $500,000 loan from Colyer was made on Aug. 13, 2014, and a campaign finance disclosure filed in January 2015 indicated that $400,000 of that loan was repaid on Nov. 21, 2014.