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Grand Jury Investigates Brownback Fundraising

The Associated Press reports that a federal grand jury is investigating loans to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s re-election campaign.  

The loans in question were most likely from Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer. Colyer loaned the Brownback  campaign half a million dollars three separate times, always just before a campaign finance report was due.  On at least two occasions the campaign paid the money back days later.  

Political candidates always want to report healthy fundraising, and the loans helped offset lack luster fundraising by the Brownback campaign and generate headlines like this one last July in the Wichita Eagle:

“Brownback campaign raises $744,000; Davis campaign raises $1.1 million”

Absent a last-minute loan, which was detailed on the campaign finance report, the incumbent governor’s total would have equaled less than a quarter of the challengers.   

Washburn University political science professor Bob Beatty says he understands why the campaign would want to avoid an embarrassing headline, but he says he’s never seen such blatant effort to bump up the numbers.

“Clearly the people in the Brownback campaign felt like the negative publicity of having the Lt. Governor shift that money around was not as important as having those numbers high for fund raising,” says Beatty.

The Associated Press broke news that a grand jury is looking into the legality of those loans. It reports that the director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission has been subpoenaed to testify next week.

I’ve been at KCUR almost 30 years, working partly for NPR and splitting my time between local and national reporting. I work to bring extra attention to people in the Midwest, my home state of Kansas and of course Kansas City. What I love about this job is having a license to talk to interesting people and then crafting radio stories around their voices. It’s a big responsibility to uphold the truth of those stories while condensing them for lots of other people listening to the radio, and I take it seriously. Email me at frank@kcur.org or find me on Twitter @FrankNewsman.
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