Archive for Thursday, January 28, 2010

Federal Elections Commission auditing Kansas Republican Party

January 28, 2010, 4:14 p.m. Updated January 29, 2010, 12:00 a.m.

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— Federal officials have audited the Kansas Republican Party over record-keeping problems, and the state GOP once fell behind on its rent, internal memos show.

The documents, obtained by The Associated Press, disclosed an audit by the Federal Election Commission over problems in 2007-08, when Kris Kobach was state party chairman. The documents said the GOP later was unable to do an internal audit because of problems with its records and noted that it missed several months’ worth of payroll tax payments in 2008.

Public records show the FEC also fined the party $500 last year, after Kobach’s departure as chairman, for filing a monthly campaign finance report late. The party appealed but paid the fine in September.

The internal party documents obtained by the AP were a June 2009 treasurer’s report for the party, an October 2009 memo from current Chairwoman Amanda Adkins to party leaders and an unsigned report about the FEC’s audit of 2007-08 activities accompanying Adkins’ memo.

The documents said the FEC did not suspect misuse of party funds and that the problems cited by it were corrected. But early last year, one document said, the party was behind on four months’ rent.

“The state of the records was not good and considerable effort has since gone into establishing records as well as correcting procedures to prevent a recurrence,” the treasurer’s report said.

Adkins said in e-mails to the AP that the FEC’s review is not complete but declined to discuss it in detail, noting that she was still preparing information for the party’s Executive Committee.

The committee was to meet today as hundreds of GOP activists gathered in Topeka for the state party’s annual two-day Kansas Days convention.

The Kansas GOP’s past problems remain relevant to some Republicans because Kobach is running for secretary of state.

Kobach’s conservative politics led to grumbling among GOP moderates about his selection as chairman, and some prominent Republicans have acknowledged distancing themselves from the party organization.

Kobach said he’s heard about the FEC investigation and said it stems from “a series of poor reports” filed by the party’s former executive director, Christian Morgan. Kobach said the problems weren’t his fault, though he said he takes responsibility for hiring Morgan after becoming chairman in January 2007.

“Obviously, his strength is running good campaigns,” Kobach said. “His forte is not bookkeeping.”

FEC spokeswoman Julia Queen declined to confirm or deny the commission was conducting an audit. But last June’s Kansas GOP treasurer’s report said an FEC audit team arrived at the party’s Topeka offices that month, intending to stay about two weeks.

The report suggested the audit would show problems linked to “inadequate staffing and supervision.”

Morgan said many tasks that should have fallen to others fell to him and questioned Kobach’s leadership. Morgan is now a political consultant, and his firm is working for one of Kobach’s GOP opponents in the secretary of state’s race, J.R. Claeys.

“It would have been nice to have had a little help running the party,” Morgan said.

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