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Archive for Sunday, May 12, 2002

State insurance commissioner candidate withdraws from campaign

May 12, 2002

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— A candidate for state insurance commissioner has withdrawn from the race one week after it was disclosed that he sought campaign donations from the insurance companies he regulated.

John J. McCarvel, a Topeka Republican, worked for three years as the Kansas Insurance Department's admissions coordinator, reviewing the finances of companies seeking approval to sell insurance in Kansas.

He left his state job last week when it became known that he prominently mentioned his state job in a letter dated April 8 to the president of TIAA-CREF Life Insurance Co. of New York.

The letter, made public May 3, notes that "it takes a sizable treasury to run a statewide campaign."

Topeka attorney Pedro Irigonegaray announced that McCarvel would withdraw from the race Friday.

Irigonegaray said McCarvel had sought and accepted $750 campaign contributions from insurance companies he regulated. The checks weren't cashed and were returned to the companies that wrote them.

Irigonegaray said McCarvel was unaware of the Kansas law that prohibits candidates for state office from soliciting or accepting contributions from corporations and political groups during the legislative session.

"His decision to return the funds was immediate when he learned about the law," Irigonegaray said. "What he did wasn't illegal, it was the time he did it that made it illegal. What's interesting is this occurs with regularity, and sometimes people forget it. It shouldn't happen, but it does."

Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Sebelius, who is seeking the Democratic Party's nomination for governor, has asked the Governmental Ethics Commission to investigate the situation.

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