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Democrats accuse Kansas GOP of illegal coordination with Ryan-linked super PAC

Democratic candidates support Sharice Davids to ‘flip the district’

Davids won the Democratic primary in Kansas' 3rd District.
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Davids won the Democratic primary in Kansas' 3rd District.

A Kansas Republican Party officer’s role in an ad paid for by a political action committee is evidence of illegal coordination, a Democratic official argues in a complaint filed Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC linked to Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, has spent nearly $2 million as of Sept. 21 to boost four-term incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder in Kansas’ 3rd congressional district, according to an analysis of FEC records by ProPublica.

One of the ads the PAC recently launched against Yoder’s Democratic opponent Sharice Davids in the Kansas City area featured a fearful mother warning that Davids is “too risky for Kansas families.”

The mother in the ad is Alana Zimmer-Roethle, the secretary of the Kansas Republican Party, a fact first reported by The Kansas City Star. The ad does not disclose Zimmer-Roethle’s position with the state party, nor her status as a Kansas Lottery commissioner.

Federal rules restrict coordinated communication between state political parties and super PACs.

Andy Sandler, the Democratic Chair for Kansas’ 3rd congressional district, has asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate whether the Kansas Republican Party and Congressional Leadership Fund violated these rules and to pursue penalties.

“The appearance of an officer of a political party committee in a television advertisement — looking directly into the camera and appearing to read from scripted lines — strongly evinces material involvement by the party in the advertisement,” Sandler states in the complaint.

Jim Joice, the executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, said that the party secretary’s appearance in the ad “was done solely in her personal capacity; the Kansas Republican Party had no knowledge of the ad or Ms. Roethle’s involvement until we saw it on TV.”

Megan Sowards Newton, counsel to CLF, called the complaint “a frivolous publicity stunt that shows just how desperate Sharice Davids and Kansas Democrats are to distract from their far-left agenda.”

She said in a statement that CLF “goes above and beyond to follow the law and looks forward to the dismissal of this baseless complaint.”

A poll by The New York Times and Siena College found that Davids led Yoder 51 percent to 43 percent in the suburban district.

The survey of 494 voters, which was conducted this past weekend, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percent.

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