Complaint alleges GOP candidate wrongly used funds

TOPEKA — A Republican challenger in the Kansas 2nd District race faces an ethics complaint over funding for a trip he took in November 2009 as he considered entering the race.

The complaint filed against Dennis Pyle of Hiawatha alleges he improperly used funds from his Kansas state Senate campaign to finance a trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with political consultants. Pyle represents the 1st District in the Kansas Senate.

Pyle is challenging Rep. Lynn Jenkins for the Republican nomination. Jenkins is seeking re-election in the eastern Kansas district that includes Topeka, Manhattan and a portion of Lawrence.

The complaint alleges Pyle violated state campaign finance laws by using money raised for a state campaign for activities related to possible federal campaign. Pyle declined to discuss the specifics of the complaint, filed with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission. The commission is expected to review the complaint in June.

"It's not public information," Pyle said. "I have nothing to hide."

Hogan Miller, a spokesman for the Jenkins campaign, said Jenkins would let the state ethics panel clear up the issue.

"Congresswoman Jenkins is focused on doing the job she was elected to do," Miller said.

The complaint was filed by GOP activist Derek Franklin raising questions about how Pyle paid for the trip, which included meetings set up by Robert Cahaly, a Republican consultant with Gadsden and Greene Strategies.

In January, Pyle filed a 2009 state campaign finance report for his Senate account with expenses that Franklin said were linked to the Washington trip. The expenses include $500 paid Dec. 28 to Gadsden and Greene for travel accommodations, a $289 reimbursement paid Dec. 3 to an unknown person for travel and a $73 reimbursement Nov. 19 to Pyle for travel. His trip to Washington was Nov. 11.

Pyle's federal campaign report filed in January showed no payments to Cahaly from Pyle's congressional account. Franklin said if there were other expenses that qualified for use of state campaign funds there would have been some listing on the report to the Federal Elections Commission.

"I only hope this was an oversight," said Franklin, who is preparing to assume the chairmanship of the Atchison County Republican Party. "The buzzword has always been transparency. It's just a coming to light. Let's just get this taken care of if it's an infraction."

Pyle plans to file for the race ahead of Thursday's filing deadline, said Franklin's complaint was a campaign maneuver.

"I expect the left to resort to these tactics," Pyle said. "The people of the 2nd District deserve a true conservative."