A Democratic congressional candidate faces a Kansas ethics commission hearing over a Republican Party complaint that she violated a state campaign finance law, but an aide said Monday that she’s long since addressed the mistake prompting the case.
The Kansas GOP’s complaint against Democrat Kelly Kultala centered on a $1,000 contribution her campaign in the 3rd Congressional District received from Kultala’s legislative campaign account. Kultala is a former state senator who hopes to unseat two-term Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder in the Kansas City-area district.
The contribution was made in February, and Kultala’s campaign disclosed it in a federal finance report filed in April. Two days later, Clay Barker, the state GOP’s executive director, filed a complaint with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, noting that state law prohibits the transfer of funds from a state campaign account to a federal one.
The ethics commission scheduled a public hearing on the complaint for July 16. But Kultala’s campaign manager, Jacob Becklund, said her congressional campaign returned the money six or seven weeks ago, upon learning of the GOP complaint.
“Had they just wanted the money to be returned, they could have sent us a letter or an email,” Becklund said.
The commission can impose a fine of up to $5,000. But Executive Director Carol Williams said when the commission has seen improper contributions in the past, it typically has directed candidates to return the money, without levying fines if they comply.
Barker said the GOP wanted Kultala’s congressional campaign to return the money but acknowledged the complaint also was designed to highlight the mistake, so candidates remain careful.
“There aren’t enough government regulators to handle all this, and the campaigns watch each other,” Barker said.
Kultala, from Kansas City, faces Reginald Marselus, a retired Lenexa electrician, in the Aug. 5 Democratic primary. Yoder is unopposed in the GOP primary.
The Third District includes Wyandotte and Johnson counties.