Democrats file complaint with FEC over TV ad

Window on the West
Opinion column

by Mary Rupert

Today, a complaint was filed with the Federal Election Commission by Kansas 3rd District Democratic Chair Andy Sandler, for the Kansas Democratic Party.

The complaint alleged that there was illegal coordination between the Congressional Leadership Fund, a Republican Super PAC, and the Kansas Republican Party in a television ad that supported Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-3rd Dist., the incumbent.

According to a news release from a Kansas Democratic Party spokesman, the Congressional Leadership PAC (political action committee), a GOP Super PAC, is prohibited from coordinating with candidates or party committees. The Democrats’ complaint says the appearance of an officer of the Kansas Republican Party in a CLF-funded ad shows involvement of the party in key decisions about the ad and constitutes illegal coordination.

The 3rd District campaign this year between Rep. Yoder and Democratic challenger Sharice Davids has been marked by a large number of television ads with an influx of national funding. An officer of the Kansas Republican Party, Alana Zimmer-Roethle, spoke and was identified in a recent ad as a concerned mother, and was not named as a party official in the ad. She is the state party’s secretary, and also was appointed to the Kansas Lottery Commission by former Gov. Sam Brownback.

“CLF thus made an illegal in-kind contribution to the Kansas Republican Party, and the Kansas Republican Party received an illegal, excess contribution,” the Democrats’ complaint to the FEC alleged.

The complaint requested the FEC to investigate the matter, to enjoin them from further violations and to fine them.

Why have the ads gone negative so early in the campaign? It’s because the contest is so close, and it’s perceived at the national level as a possible upset.

Andy Sandler, who filed the complaint, said he is thrilled about the Democrats’ campaign this year.

In the six years he has been working in the 3rd District, he has never seen such enthusiasm as he has out of the Davids’ campaign, Sandler said.

“She has really caught fire very, very quickly,” he said.

According to a recent New York Times – Siena College Poll, Davids was up 51 percent against Yoder’s 43 percent in the district, he said.

“That’s thrilling to me, and not surprising,” Sandler said. “Yoder’s increasingly become out of touch with voters in the district.”

Yoder has increasingly tied himself to Trump, and that’s a losing strategy in the 3rd District, considering that Trump lost the district in 2016, Sandler added. That election was a bellwether to what will happen in 2018, he believes.

The state GOP, however, is currently pointing to the popularity of the national GOP, which it says has increased to 45 percent nationally, a high in recent years, and is riding the crest of economic success.

In Wyandotte County, the Democratic candidate for 3rd District often receives the most votes here, and did in 2016, but there are about five times as many voters in Johnson County.

Super PACs are throwing around $4 million into races statewide, not just the Congressional race in the 3rd District, Sandler said.

While Yoder’s supporters are throwing money around, “I think their return on investment is going to be in the negative numbers,” Sandler said. “I couldn’t be happier.”

One of the campaign issues in the 3rd District that has recently gained attention has been the Affordable Care Act and the ability of those with pre-existing conditions to have affordable insurance. Sandler said Yoder’s plan would allow those with pre-existing conditions to continue to have insurance, but would allow insurance companies to charge whatever they wanted, effectively pricing some of these individuals out of coverage.

“It violates the spirit and the letter of the Affordable Care Act, it’s supposed to be affordable,” he said.

While some people think the election outcome will be based on how many times a candidate’s name is mentioned negatively or positively on television ads, Sandler said he hopes the voters in the 3rd District do a little more homework on their own than just believe what an ad says.

“Dig a little deeper before they go to the polls,” Sandler said.

For more information on the candidates’ positions on the issues, visit:
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Mary Rupert is the editor of the Wyandotte Daily. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Wyandotte Daily.

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