Topeka The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission is investigating a fundraising solicitation by Atty. Gen. Phill Kline, it was confirmed Monday.
Kline spokesman Whitney Watson said Kline's office found out that questions arose over the solicitation letters, and immediately reported itself to the Ethics Commission.
"As soon as we found out, we self-reported to the Ethics Commission and are cooperating with them," Watson said.
The question is over solicitations for contributions related to a Kline fundraiser scheduled for Feb. 28 in Wichita featuring former U.S. Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft.
Apparently some of the solicitations were mailed to lobbyists. State officeholders are prohibited from asking lobbyists, businesses, political action committees, political parties and unions for campaign contributions from Jan. 1 until the legislative session officially ends, which is usually in late May.
Watson said the solicitation letters were sent by David Kensinger, a former chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., now a political consultant in Topeka.
"We hired honest people with integrity. They made an honest mistake," Watson said.
"It was an honest oops," Kensinger said.
Watson and Kensinger said the firm sent out letters based on addresses from several databases. Several lobbyists contacted Kline's office noting that they shouldn't have received solicitations for campaign contributions, they both said.
"As soon as we found out, we instructed the vendors to purge the list," Watson said.
The matter was first reported in Hawver's Capitol Report, a political newsletter published by journalists Martin and Vickie Hawver.
Carol Williams, executive director of the Ethics Commission, declined to comment on the matter.
Ethics investigations are handled privately. If the Ethics Commission decides a violation took place, it will hold a public hearing on the allegation.
Last year, the Ethics Commission fined two legislators for soliciting campaign contributions from lobbyists during the legislative session.
In August, Sen. Kay O'Connor, R-Olathe, was fined $3,000 when she sent letters in April to about 150 people, including 17 lobbyists, concerning her potential campaign for secretary of state. O'Connor denied any wrongdoing.
A month earlier, House Speaker Pro Tem Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, was fined $1 for a similar offense. But Merrick reported the problem to the Ethics Commission saying the invitations for a June fundraiser were inadvertently mailed early while he was on a hunting trip.