Elections

Brownback campaign defends floating loan of $500,000 from Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer

Gov. Sam Brownback, left, raised more funds than Democratic challenger Paul Davis in the latest campaign spending period, thanks to a loan Brownback and his wife made to his campaign.
Gov. Sam Brownback, left, raised more funds than Democratic challenger Paul Davis in the latest campaign spending period, thanks to a loan Brownback and his wife made to his campaign. File photo

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that the governor received $2,000 from the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce PAC, instead of from the chamber itself.

Gov. Sam Brownback’s re-election campaign has raised $2.2 million since July 25, but $200,000 came out of his own checking account.

Another $500,000 came from his running mate, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, a loan that has gone back and forth from Colyer’s account to the campaign’s several times.

The loans from Brownback and Colyer put the governor’s fundraising total over that of Democratic challenger Paul Davis, who raised about $2 million during the same period. If the loans are excluded, Davis outraised Brownback.

Colyer, a plastic surgeon, has loaned Brownback’s campaign a total of $500,000 this election cycle. But he’s given that amount at three different times.

Colyer first loaned the campaign the money on Dec. 31, right before a campaign finance filing deadline, and was repaid by Jan. 2.

The quick repayment was discovered when Colyer again loaned the campaign the same amount on July 23, the day before the July filing deadline. Democrats accused Colyer of artificially increasing Brownback’s finance totals with a floating loan and pondered whether Colyer had already been repaid.

It turns out Colyer was repaid the loan on July 25, two days after making it.

That contradicts what Brownback said Aug. 5, the day of the primary. Asked whether the loan had already been repaid, he told the Associated Press, “Nothing further’s happened on that.”

Colyer loaned $500,000 to the campaign a third time on Aug. 13. He has not yet been repaid, according to the finance report the Brownback campaign filed with the Secretary of State’s Office on Monday.

“As Dr. Colyer previously stated, the movement of the loan was simply an issue of cash management,” John Milburn, the campaign’s spokesman, said when asked why the lieutenant governor had made the same loan three times.

Regarding the governor’s claim that the loan had not been repaid before the primary, Milburn replied, “When the governor made this statement to the AP, he was unaware of the transaction.”

Brownback and his wife, Mary, loaned the campaign $200,000 on Oct. 22.

$2,000 donations

The governor received a check for $2,000 from Amerigroup, one of the companies with a contract to provide Medicaid services under the KanCare umbrella. He also received a $2,000 donation from Hickam Public Affairs, the lobbying firm that represents Sunflower State Health Plan, one of the other KanCare companies.

Other donations at that level came from Wichita-based Spirit AeroSystems and from the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce PAC.

The Davis campaign received $2,000 donations from Brian Riordan, president of the Wichita-based Riordan Clinic, and from Jim Slattery, a former Kansas congressman who now lives in Virginia.

Davis’ running mate, Wichita businesswoman Jill Docking, has made the campaign a series of payments that total $18,250 over the period.

Her son Brian Docking gave the campaign $2,000, and her husband, Thomas Docking, gave the campaign $10,000.

The Brownback campaign began the period with about $2.4 million. After spending about $3.6 million in the past three months, the campaign entered the final two weeks of the race with more than $1 million in the bank.

The campaign has spent more than $1.8 million since July 25 with Wilson Grand Communications, a political ad firm in Alexandria, Va.

Crossroads Media, a consulting firm also based in Alexandria, received $148,000. And Singularis, a firm based in Mission that designs campaign mailers, received nearly $94,000 from the campaign.

The Davis campaign spent about $3.3 million during the period and had about $99,000 left for the final push.

More than $2.6 million of the campaign’s money went to Screen Strategies Media, a consulting and advertising firm based in Fairfax, Va., which lists a slew of Democratic candidates and progressive organizations as clients.

Outside spending

The governor’s race also has drawn plenty of outside spending.

The Republican Governors Association spent about $3.7 million on the race between July 25 and Oct. 23, according to its campaign finance report filed with the Kansas Ethics Commission.

The group has aired ads that attack Davis over his presence at a Montgomery County strip club in 1998 during a drug raid. He was briefly questioned by police but had no drugs on him and was not a subject of the investigation. The Davis campaign has called the ads a smear campaign.

The Democratic Governors Association has also waded into the fight with a $130,000 donation to the Kansas Values Institute, an independent group airing attack ads against Gov. Sam Brownback, according to forms filed with the IRS.

The institute also received a $150,000 donation from the Kansas National Education Association’s political action committee. The KNEA, the state’s largest teachers union, which vocally backs Davis, has spent nearly $260,000 on various campaigns this quarter.

The Kansas Republican Party attacked the Kansas Values Institute over the donations in a release Monday afternoon. Its executive director, Clay Barker, said the contributions confirmed that “union bosses and liberal Democrats were the real power behind the KVI and its distortions of Gov. Sam Brownback’s record.”

Ryan Wright, the institute’s executive director, dismissed Barker’s criticism, saying the institute is a nonpartisan, nonpolitical organization “committed to promoting common-sense Kansas values and policies.”

Bob Beatty, a political science professor at Washburn University, said the Democratic Governors Association’s $130,000 donation “was a penny in a lake compared to what we’ve been seeing (from the Republican Governors Association).”

Beatty said one reason the Democratic association would give money to an independent group rather than paying for its own ads is that the Democratic Party is not a particularly strong brand in Kansas.

“If somebody’s looking at the end of an ad and sees something that says ‘Kansas Values’ rather than ‘Democratic Governors Association,’ the hope is that viewer’s not distracted by the political party connotation,” Beatty said.

Beatty compared it to Koch Industries’ donations to the Republican Governors Association. The Wichita-based company is the GOP group’s top donor, giving nearly $4.3 million to the association this campaign cycle for governors’ races across the country.

“It’s the same idea that rather than Koch running an ad for Brownback, let’s have the Republican Governors do that, because it’s a good brand,” Beatty said.

When asked last week, Mark Nichols, Koch’s vice president of public affairs, would not say whether the company was actively backing Brownback’s re-election campaign.

“All contributions by Koch Industries are reported through the appropriate state and federal reporting systems as required by law,” Nichols said in an e-mail. “We do not comment on specific campaigns or political efforts.”

PDF links

PDF of Sam Brownback campaign finance report

PDF of Paul Davis campaign finance report

Reach Bryan Lowry at 785-296-3006 or blowry@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BryanLowry3.

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