Brownback's running mate keeping mum on loan to campaign

Colyer, Brownback
Colyer, Brownback AP

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer would not answer questions Tuesday about a third loan he made to his campaign with Gov. Sam Brownback.

A financial disclosure filing Monday shows Colyer, a Republican, loaned Brownback’s campaign $500,000 in August – the third such loan Brownback’s running mate has made to the governor’s re-election bid.

He first made such a loan on Dec. 31, the last day covered by a finance report due in early January, and it was repaid on Jan. 2. He then made a second $500,000 loan on July 23, the second-to-last day covered by a finance report due in late July, and it was repaid two days later, when a new reporting period started.

At a campaign event in Wichita, Colyer, a reconstructive plastic surgeon, would not answer questions about the loans or the origin of the money. Brownback campaign spokesman John Milburn said before the event that the recurring Colyer loans that are repaid days later amount to simple “cash management.”

Chris Pumpelly, a spokesman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis, said “the people of Kansas deserve to know where this money came from.”

Davis also said legislators should consider reviewing campaign finance laws to prevent such quick loans.

“These loans just don’t seem to make a lot of sense to me,” Davis said. “Whether the money’s being used or not, we don’t know.”

The disclosure that the second loan was repaid in July contradicts what Brownback said about it on Aug. 5. Asked whether it had been repaid, he said, “Nothing further’s happened on that.”

Milburn said Brownback was unaware of the repayment at the time.

The loans in the Brownback campaign create a “deceptive appearance” on financial disclosure reports, said Michael Kaye, director of Washburn University School of Law’s Center for Excellence in Advocacy in Topeka.

“It does seem to create a false impression that he has more support than he actually has,” Kaye said.

The third loan from Colyer is in addition to a $200,000 loan that Brownback made to his campaign last week. Discounting the loans, Davis has raised more in contributions than the incumbent GOP governor.

Davis raised more than $2 million during the past three months, bringing his total since the start of last year to $4.2 million. Brownback raised $1.55 million for the period and $3.4 million since the start of 2013.

“On its face, this is a strange pattern without a clear violation,” said Lisa Gilbert of Public Citizen, a Washington-based group that advocates for campaign finance reform. “But it certainly raises questions as to why it is happening over and over again.”

She said she has heard of other candidates making campaign loans that were quickly paid back but not in a pattern that is as clear cut as what is happening in the Kansas governor’s race.

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