Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback looked like he had a sugar-daddy contributor in his race for re-election in 2014.
It was Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, who three times made loans of $500,000 to Brownback’s campaign.
At the time, Brownback refused to explain the rationale behind the loans or pretty much anything else about them.
But now they appear to have have popped up in what could be an extremely troubling place.
As The Associated Press reported Thursday, a federal grand jury in Topeka is looking into loans made to Brownback.
The AP reported that “the only loans listed on campaign disclosure reports for (2013 and 2014) are one from Brownback himself and others from Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer. Such large loans by candidates to campaigns are uncommon in Kansas, and the pattern of repaying one within days is a highly unusual move that has generated unanswered questions about where Colyer obtained such a large amount of cash.”
Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley said a federal probe would have no merit.
However, this reported probe comes at an awkward time for Brownback and for the people of Kansas.
His inauguration for a second term and a major budget-related speech to the Kansas Legislature are scheduled within the coming days.
Brownback’s excessive income tax cuts, which took effect in 2013, have failed to produce the high number of jobs he once promised. Instead, they have led to a huge drop in tax revenues.
So the governor has cut $280 million in expenses in this year’s budget, and is staring at slashing more than $400 million in the next budget that starts July 1.
Republicans in Kansas and across the nation have watched Brownback’s income tax-cutting plan stutter for more than two years. At one point, Brownback was seen as leading a GOP charge to reduce taxes in states while still being able to provide good services to the public.
But with the continued troubling revenue news in Kansas, Brownback’s legacy is being tarnished.
It will be further tainted if a federal grand jury determines that the governor, Colyer or both of them did something illegal with campaign contributions.