The Buzz

Kansas Senate radio ads face scrutiny

Did a local political action committee run afoul of campaign laws?

Federal Election Commission records show a political action committee named the Visionary Leaders Fund spent $76,000 Tuesday on radio ads opposing Greg Orman’s Senate candidacy in Kansas.

Donors to the Visionary Leaders Fund include Anne Hogdon, a GOP activist from Lenexa who has given to Sen. Pat Roberts.

The spots were produced by the Singularis Group of Overland Park. FEC filings show the PAC’s paperwork was submitted by Aaron Trost, who works for Singularis.

But FEC records show Singularis has also worked for the Pat Roberts for U.S. Senate committee.

In general, independent expenditures — like the ads from the Visionary Leaders Fund — must be made without the knowledge or cooperation of a candidate or a campaign. That’s why they’re called independent expenditures.

If the message is coordinated, the expenditure becomes an in-kind donation. And in general, individuals can only donate $2,600 per election, while non-multi-candidate PACs like the Visionary Leaders Fund are also limited to $2,600 per election.

Obviously $76,000 > $2,600.

Was the Visionary Leaders Fund radio ad improperly coordinated with the Roberts campaign through Singularis, which works for both?

There’s a three-part test:

1) payment, which apparently took place;

2) the message’s content, which appears to involve the election;

3) conduct: was there any communication between the campaign and the PAC through Singularis?

The FEC would have to figure that out.

In a statement, Trost said Singularis has “firewalls” in place to prevent improper message coordination.

“In cases where coordination between two separate clients is prohibited, the firm has specific firewalls in place to prevent the flow of information between parties barred from coordination,” his statement says.

“These firewalls are common in the political consulting industry and were structured in close consultation with an attorney well versed in FEC law.”