GOP challenger calls treasurer's ads improper

The Republican candidate for state treasurer charged Wednesday that Treasurer Dennis McKinney has been improperly appearing in ads that promote a college tuition program to further his political career.

Republican Ron Estes said McKinney's appearances in recent promotions for the Learning Quest program have given him an unfair advantage.

"We're always talking about the advantage of incumbency, and one of those advantages is getting your name out," Estes said. "If we're going to spend money promoting the program, we ought to promote the program and not the individual.

"I'm calling on Dennis McKinney to pull all those ads."

McKinney, a Democrat, denied using the ads for political purposes. He said the ads would stop running today.

"The ad was scheduled to run through September, and we're at the end of September," he said.

Learning Quest is an education savings plan run by the state treasurer's office that helps families set aside money for college. The program gives qualifying parents tax breaks on their state income tax for investing in their child's college education.

McKinney said previous state treasurers have run the Learning Quest promotions in October. He said he moved the schedule to September to take advantage of the back-to-school climate and because the month has been designated by Congress as National College Savings Month.

"If it was for political purposes, we would have run the ads in October," he said.

McKinney said the ads would appear again in November and December, when parents begin focusing on income tax preparation.

He said American Century Investments, the company that manages the program, paid for the ads. He said American Century has concluded that including the state treasurer in the promotion lends credibility to the program.