Topeka Atty. Gen. Phill Kline often talks about his Christian faith.
But a leaked memo shows how Kline has mixed religion and money as part of an aggressive strategy to raise campaign funds and win re-election.
"Get the pastor to invite 5 'money people,' whom he knows can help," Kline told his campaign staff in a detailed, four-page memo titled "church efforts."
The anonymously leaked e-mail memo provides a rare, behind-the-scenes look at political fundraising and the methods the incumbent Republican is using as he faces Democratic challenger Paul Morrison, the Johnson County district attorney.
Kline is a frequent visitor to Kansas churches, often appearing as guest preacher. But the memo makes clear Kline is out to spread more than the Christian message when he takes the pulpit. And he wants to hit as many churches as possible:
"The Goal and Objective numbers," Kline wrote to campaign workers Bill Roche and Sylvia Chapman in the Aug. 8 e-mail. "Please try to get me in front of the largest crowds as we move through the remainder of the campaign schedule. Also, please maximize my presence in a community. Where possible, get additional churches involved. Am able to preach at several churches where service times are different."
Kline office defends memo
The memo was mailed to news media anonymously with a return address of "Concerned Citizens, Everywhere, KS." The envelope was postmarked in Topeka. The mailing also included "event sheets" that provided details of Kline's visits to churches and later receptions on the campaign trail.
On Nov. 7, Kansas voters will choose between Morrison and Kline, who is completing his first term after narrowly defeating Democratic challenger Chris Biggs in 2002.
Sherriene Jones, a spokeswoman for the Kline campaign, confirmed the memo was written by Kline and sent to Roche, his campaign manager, and campaign volunteer Chapman. Copied on the e-mail was Doug Henkle, who works both in the attorney general's office and the campaign.
"There isn't anything wrong with a candidate turning to his supporters," Jones said of the e-mail. "There isn't anything wrong or illegal with the attorney general thinking about his election campaign."
She said none of the fundraising occurred during actual church services, but at later receptions. Under federal tax laws, churches must maintain arm's length from political candidates or risk losing their tax-free status.
Jones said the memo detailed a campaign strategy common to other candidates, but also noted the memo was not meant for public consumption. She said she was concerned someone hacked into Kline's personal computer to get the information, but she made no accusations about who may have done that.
Mark Simpson, a spokesman for Morrison's campaign, said he had no knowledge of the mailing or its contents.
In the memo, Kline also provides detailed instructions to his staff on how to maximize his schedule and efforts to get more campaign funds.
"Goal is to walk away with contact information, money and volunteers and a committee in each church," Kline wrote.
More about Kline
- Kline's memo on church efforts (.pdf)
- Campaign briefing blog
- Upcoming chat with Phill Kline (submit a question early)
- AG candidate says he'll halt abortion clinic investigations (09-06-06)
- Lawrence Republican joins Kline campaign (08-26-06)
- Attorney general race heats up from the start
- More in Election 2006
After he has spoken at an event: "Get me out. Do not schedule me for social lunches. Only working lunches were (sic) we can obtain either media, money or crucial support," he wrote. "Work with Bob to try not to leave gaps in the schedule. If there is a gap, get me to a quite (sic) place so I can make phone calls or write; feed me slimfast. Do not need a sit down meal. Takes too much time."
Kline also wrote about specific pastors and abortion, which he opposes.
"Must rework Joe Wright and Terry Fox," Kline wrote, referring to two Wichita ministers who led the charge to pass a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
"Must get in their pulpits and have them personally host a reception to match Tiller's blood money," Kline writes, referring to Dr. George Tiller, who owns a Wichita clinic that provides late-term abortions.
"Perhaps we can get Dobson by phone. Joe, Terry and Pat must commit to get 5-10 people there who can drop $1,000 to $2,000. This will take a lot of work, contact, work, and contact. This should be early to mid-September. Get me in their pulpits," Kline wrote.