Archive for Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Secretary of State candidate fined $5,000 for violating campaign finance laws

May 18, 2010, 7:47 a.m. Updated May 18, 2010, 5:06 p.m.


— A legislator who’s hoping to be elected Kansas’ top elections official was fined $5,000 on Tuesday by the state ethics commission for misusing campaign funds.

The penalty for state Sen. Chris Steineger, a Kansas City Democrat, was the maximum possible. He said the ethics violation resulted from an unintentional mistake and promised to pay the fine quickly.

The Governmental Ethics Commission concluded that Steineger violated a law restricting how campaign funds can be used. Twice last year, Steineger used his Senate campaign fund to pay for polls testing how well voters recognized his name for a potential run for statewide office.

Steineger is running against Secretary of State Chris Biggs in the Aug. 3 Democratic primary. Three Republicans also are running for the office.

Kansas law doesn’t allow a candidate to use money raised while running for one office on a campaign for another office. Ethics commission Chairwoman Sabrina Standifer, a Wichita attorney, noted that legislators have discussed rewriting the law in recent years but haven’t done it, making the issue familiar.

“It’s come up repeatedly before the Legislature,” she said after the commission’s meeting. “It’s not a new issue.”

After the meeting, Steineger emphasized in a statement that he was complying with the commission’s ruling and had cooperated with its staff.

“I made that mistake myself,” Steineger said during a hearing on his case. “I accept responsibility for the mistake.”

Steineger also accepted responsibility for a fundraising e-mail in February that went to 40 lobbyists, in violation of a law against soliciting contributions from registered lobbyists while the Legislature is in session.

But he said he had repeatedly directed his campaign finance manager to purge his e-mail list of lobbyists’ names. Standifer noted that under the law, the commission can’t fine candidates unless they knowingly violate the ban, and the commission concluded there wasn’t enough evidence of that in Steineger’s case.

Both allegations against Steineger were lodged by the commission’s executive director and outlined in a notice to him last month.

A report filed in January by Steineger’s Senate campaign showed that it paid the M.J. Ross Group Inc., of Portland, Ore., $1,888 in March 2009 and again in November 2009. Both times, the purpose of the spending was listed as “consulting.”

In late March, Steineger told the commission in a letter that the expenditures were for polling and, “I should have used personal funds.”

Steineger told the commission during Tuesday’s hearing that he had thought he had used personal funds. He also said he had believed using his Senate campaign to pay for the polls was acceptable because the polling included general questions about a potential voter’s views unrelated to any specific race.

In addition, he told commission members: “I think I just forgot at the time the bill was due. I picked up the wrong checkbook and wrote the wrong check.”


lawrenceguy40 7 years, 10 months ago

And he is a liberal, so he doesn't understand the concept of ethical behavior.

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 10 months ago

And with all their bible-thumping, the religious right doesn't either.

thatonedude 7 years, 10 months ago

A man who's only professed beliefs in the Kansas legislature have been to shrink government and build more coal plants, and who has become a common sight at Tea Party rallies in Kansas, is a liberal?

ivalueamerica 7 years, 10 months ago

anyone left of atilla the hun is a liberal according to most neocons on this board.

texburgh 7 years, 10 months ago

Lawrenceguy40 once again displays his ignorance of the Kansas political scene. Steineger is a DINO - check his voting record. He votes with the Republican conservatives in the Senate almost every time; he rarely votes with the Democrats. You might also see that he is a darling of Koch Industries Americans for Prosperity, serving as a speaker at many of their functions and attending tea bagger functions.

For more information on "ethical behavior," you might also take the time to examine who has been fined by the ethics commission over the past few years. The Rs dramatically outnumber the Ds.

Really - check your facts before outing your ignorance.

ChrisNyberg 7 years, 10 months ago

You did it, no you did it, no you did it, no you did it, no you did it, no you did it, no you did it, no you did it, no you did it, no you did it, no you did it, no you did it, no you did it, no you did it, no you did it.

bad_dog 7 years, 10 months ago

I believe it's known as "finger pointing", AKA the "circular firing squad".

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

I was thinking maybe he was using campaign funds to pay another guy to lie and say he was the father of the politician's love child while the politician's wife suffered from breast cancer.

Meh. It looks like North Carolina has more capable democrats. It's almost like two different worlds..

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