Kansas GOP candidate Amanda Adkins repudiates FEC complaint as ‘frivolous’

By: - September 15, 2020 3:21 pm
Republican congressional candidate Amanda Adkins' spokesman Tuesday rejected validity of a complaint filed with the Federal Elections Commission alleging Adkins violated federal law by raising thousands of dollars before formally establishing her candidacy. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

Republican congressional candidate Amanda Adkins’ spokesman Tuesday rejected validity of a complaint filed with the Federal Elections Commission alleging Adkins violated federal law by raising thousands of dollars before formally establishing her candidacy. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Kansas Republican congressional candidate Amanda Adkins pushed back Tuesday against allegations she broke federal law by raising about $140,000 in contributions before officially registering her candidacy.

Adkins won a competitive five-person GOP primary in August to earn an opportunity to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids. Davids two years ago defeated incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder in the U.S. House district covering Wyandotte and Johnson counties and part of Miami County in eastern Kansas.

A complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission by a former Democratic Party official alleged Adkins’ campaign finance activity during 2019 demonstrated she went beyond boundaries of the allowable “testing-the-waters” phase to meet the federal definition of a “candidate” for public office. The complaint says Adkins didn’t acknowledge that reality by promptly registering as a House candidate once she crossed that financial boundary.

Matthew Trail, spokesman for Adkins’ campaign, said Adkins complied with FEC rules and federal election law while exploring potential of a campaign for the House. He said she didn’t decide to run for Congress until August 2019 and acted appropriately by submitting timely required paperwork with the FEC.

“This is a frivolous, meritless complaint from a Democrat operative with partisan motivations,” Trail said.

Andrew Sandler, who signed the complaint to the FEC, said Adkins’ extensive experience with political campaigns in Kansas ought to have prepared her for fundamental responsibilities of a candidate. She ran the 2004 re-election campaign for U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback and was chairwoman of the Kansas Republican Party from 2009 to 2013. She previously worked as director of GOPAC, which works to prepare Republican candidates for elections.

“Certainly, the spirit of the law was violated,” Sandler said. “The rules apply to everybody. If you don’t call scofflaws on this, they’ll continue to be emboldened to do it.”

Sandler said FEC records showed Adkins began accepting in-kind donations related to airfare in March and April 2019. In May 2019, Adkins received itemized contributions of at least $42,000. A consultant with High Cotton Consulting in July 2019 represented Adkins in emails to potential donors as a congressional candidate in the 3rd District, he said.

Adkins filed paperwork regarding her candidacy and formation of her campaign committee on Aug. 30, 2019. FEC documents revealed Adkins had raised $139,000 and spent $11,000 by the time she made her campaign official in eyes of the FEC.

Under federal campaign finance law, Sandler said, individuals must register with the FEC as candidates once campaign activity exceeds $5,000 in either contributions or expenditures.

Sandler, who served as Democratic Party chairman in the 3rd District from 2013 to 2019, said in the FEC complaint filed Friday that Adkins appears to have crossed the line into candidate by July 2019. The campaign finance controversy was first reported by The Kansas City Star.

Davids’ campaign didn’t respond to requests for comment about campaign allegations leveled at Adkins, a 45-year-old executive at Cerner, the health care technology company based in Kansas City, Mo.

CJ Grover, spokesman for the Kansas Republican Party, said the partisan attack on Adkins was misplaced. He is a former staff member for Attorney General Derek Schmidt and U.S. Rep. Yoder.

“This is a recycled partisan hit job the Democrats already tried a year ago and it went nowhere because it has no merit,” Grover said. “These kind of desperate tactics clearly show they’re afraid of Amanda Adkins, as they should be.”

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.