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Questions about new 527 PACs, $25,000 loan unanswered. Groups support Supreme Justice Beier?

By   /   June 17, 2010  /   2 Comments

A political battle may be brewing over the retention of certain members of the Kansas Supreme Court in the November general election, and especially the retention of Justice Carol Beier.

Two Wichita-based political action committees formed in recent months, but directors and donors are unwilling to answer questions, including one about a loan.  One group spent nearly $25,000 more than it raised.

Based on the political history of the donors and the vendors, the new PACs appear to be a response to the “Fire Beier” campaign announced in January by Kansans for Life.

Tom Kirk in Wichita created two 527 PACs, the “And Justice for All” organization on March 11 and “Justice for Kansas, Inc.,” a Kansas non-profit corporation, on June 7.  Kirk declined a phone interview and has not responded to follow-up phone calls and an E-mail request for information.

A 527 PAC is a tax-exempt organization regulated by the IRS instead of the Federal Election Commission or a state ethics commission.

New Organizations

IRS filings state the purpose for the new 527 organizations:

And Justice for All:

The education of citizens regarding issues important to the Kansas court system.

Justice for Kansas, Inc.

The purposes of Justice for Kansas, Inc. are to:

  • educate citizens regarding issues important to the Kansas court system;
  • engage in political activities in support of candidates and issues, including issue advocacy; and
  • engage in any and all lawful activities incidental to the foregoing purposes as permitted for organizations qualifying as “political organizations” under Code Section 527.

These groups appear to be a response to the “Fire Beier” campaign announced by Kansans for Life in January.

KFL Executive Director Mary Kay Culp in the January KFL press release explained:

The “Fire Beier” initiative will reveal Kansas Supreme Court Justice Carol Beier’s participation in a dishonorable disinformation campaign to obstruct justice, more reminiscent of an aggressive abortion industry defense attorney, than impartial judge.

Retention Election

Supreme Court Justice Carol Beier faces a retention election in November, along with Justices Dan Biles, Marla Luckert and Lawton Nuss.

Beier and Biles are two of the four justices appointed to the high court by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.  With Biles’ appointment in Jan. 2009, Sebelius became the first governor to appoint a majority of the seven-member Supreme Court.

In February Judge Beier asked the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission if a judicial retention election was governed by the Kansas Campaign Finance Act.  The Commission ruled judicial retention elections for members of the Supreme Court were not covered by the act.

In March the Kansas Senate debated changing statutes to include judicial retention elections under the Kansas Campaign Finance Act, but the legislature took no action.

While Kansas law requires no disclosure for judicial retention elections, federal IRS rules require disclosure of contributions and expenditures by 527 PACs.

Many donors to first 527 organization are directors of other

The IRS organization filing in March for And Justice for All only revealed the name of its treasurer, Tom Kirk.

The IRS filing last week revealed names for the 10 directors for Justice for Kansas, Inc., including:  David Rebein, Gary White, Lynn Johnson, Racher Pirner, Dick Hite, Linda Parks, Mike Stout, Jack Focht, Jane Deterding and Tom Kirk.

IRS 527 PACs report contributions and expenditures on a Form 8872

The corporation filing showed only the name Tom Kirk, who was listed as the incorporator according to a Secretary of State Business Services staff member. The articles of incorporation do not list directors or officers.

The first contributions and expenditures report from And Justice for All was filed with the IRS on June 7 for transactions that took place between March 11 and March 29. This report listed 29 contributors and 4 vendors.

In a phone interview, an IRS spokesperson could not explain any consequences for the IRS 8872 report being filed on June 7 when it was due on April 15.

Nine of the 10 directors for Justice for Kansas, Inc. were donors to And Justice for All.  In addition the two groups share the same Wichita post office box (Box 21015, Wichita 67208) and E-mail address (JusticeforKS@gmail.com) according to IRS documents.

The only Justice for Kansas, Inc. director who did not make a contribution to And Justice for All was Jane Deterding, who serves as the Secretary and Treasurer.

One group or two?

Jane Deterding, Secretary and Treasurer of Kansas for Justice, Inc. responded on Wednesday:

Kansas for Justice, Inc., is a group of concerned Kansans who believe in preserving an independent judicial system for all Kansans. The people of Kansas have always been committed to a fair and impartial judiciary, and Kansans for Justice will focus on education and advocacy efforts to promote those principles. (“And Justice For All” is the same organization; however, the name was changed to reduce confusion simply because another organization had a very similar name.)

Kansas for Justice, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is in complete compliance with the laws governing such organizations including fully disclosing its sources of income and its expenditures.

While Deterding says there is one group that changed it name, each of the groups have separate IRS employer ID numbers (27-2091266 and 27-2783340) for now, and a final notice to the IRS has never been filed by the initial group.

Donors to And Justice for All

Attorneys, who have a number of political connections, gave a total of $24,500:

Andrew J. Bradshaw, self-employed, $500.

Brumley Law Office. Bruce A. Brumley, $1,000.

Bryan, Lykins, Hejtmanek & Fincher, $1000.

Depew Gillen Rathbun & McInteer, LC.  Dennis L. Gillen, $1,000.

Foulston Siefkin LLP, $8,250.

Hite, Fanning & Honeyman, $2,000.

Monnat & Spurrier Chtd, $1,250.  Attorney for Dr. George Tiller.

Palmer, Leatherman, White & Dalton LLP, $2,500.

  • Gary White, $2,500.  Sebelius contributor.

Palmer Mediation LLC, $250

Rebein Bangerter PA, D. J. Rebein, $1,000.  Former Supreme Court Nominating Commission. Former President Kansas Bar Association1st District Chair for McCain.

Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman, $5,000.

No principal of the law firm contributed by name, but Lynn Johnson at this law firm, along with his wife Jacqueline Johnson were chairs of the 2003 Kansas Inaugural PAC; were underwriters for a ProKanDo fundraiser in 2004; and hosted a fundraiser for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in their home in 2005.  Jacqueline Johnson is on the board of Planned Parenthood of Kansas & Mid-Missouri.

Attorney General Stephen Six served as a partner in Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman.

Tilton & Tilton Chtd, $1000.

Triplee Woolf & Garretson LLC, $500.

Non-attorney donors gave a total of $7,390, including:

  • J. Tom Kirk, $2,500.  Energy Supply Corporation.  Head of both 527s.
  • Kelly & Jon Callen, $1,500.  Edmiston Oil Company.  Kelly Callen is a ProKanDo contributor.
  • Joyce Allegrucci, $390.  Kansas Coalition for Lifesaving Cures.  Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ former senior advisor, chief of staff, and campaign manager.

The several donor connections to Dr. George Tiller and his ProKanDo PAC suggest this group was formed to support Justice Carol Beier for the Kansas Supreme Court in her retention election in November given KFL’s challenge in January, and Beier’s rebuke of former Attorney General and District Attorney Phill Kline for his attempts to enforce abortion laws in Kansas.

Expenditures

In their IRS filing And Justice  for All reported $31,890 in contributions and $56,572 in expenditures.

The three largest expenditures were with two vendors:

  • Cooper & Secrest Associates, Alexandria, VA, $45,940 total.  Pollsters.
  • Dixon/Davis Media Group LLC, Washington, DC, $10,000.  Consultant.

In recent years pollsters Cooper & Secrest received over $500,000 from the Kansas Democratic Party and Democratic candidates Kathleen Sebelius for Governor and Paul Morrison for Attorney General.

In late 2005 Dr. George Tiller’s ProKanDo PAC spent over $15,000 on polling by Cooper & Secrest.

In 2006 And Justice for All donor Dan Lykins was the treasurer for five Kansas Democratic Party committees that collectively sent over $125,000 to Cooper and Secrest.

Cooper and Secrest has a domain name registered, coopersecrest.com, but has no online website at that address in recent years.

The online “Goliath” Business Knowledge on Demand website gives this description for services by Cooper and Secrest:

Political consulting firm which specializes in public opinion polls for Democratic candidates. Firm also does polling work for non-candidates, such as associations and lobbying organizations.

The website for the Dixon/Davis Media group is “under construction” but they reveal this about their work:

Dixon/Davis Media Group — headed by partners David Dixon and Rich Davis — is a full-service strategic communications company and advertising agency serving Democratic candidates, campaigns, and causes.

The Missing Loan

With $31,890 in contributions and $56,572 in expenditures in their initial report to the IRS, where did the rest of the money come from spent by And Justice for All?  Who loaned the $24,682 to pay for all the reported expenditures?

IRS spokesperson April Howard suggested in a phone conversation there may be an explanation for this discrepancy but promised a more complete answer in 2 to 30 days. Howard had no answer for whether a loan was a contribution and whether a loan should be reported on an IRS 8872 form.  Howard offered no answer for IRS enforcement actions for late reports.

Eight donors to And Justice for All, who were directors of Justice for Kansas, Inc., were contacted by phone and/or E-mail for additional information.

Mike Stout from Foulston Siefkin LLP said he was not authorized to speak for either organization, but indicated his personal reason for being involved dealt with the retention of supreme court justices, but declined to elaborate further.

Dave Rebein, Rebein Bangerter, responded by E-mail:  “No comment.”

Others were not available for comment or did not reply to phone/E-mail requests.

What caused this battle over the retention of Justice Carol Beier?

The Secret Supreme Court Case Against Citizen Phill Kline

Planned Parenthood on June 6, 2007 filed suit against Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline in the Kansas Supreme Court to stop Kline’s investigation of them.  Planned Parenthood convinced the court to seal the case even though they had a press conference to publicize the case that resulted in a July 6, 2007 Kansas City Star article, “Planned Parenthood files legal petition against Kline.”

Attorney General Paul Morrison joined the secret court proceeding against Kline on July 20, 2007.

It’s unclear what happened in the secret Supreme Court case, but in an Oct. 10, 2007 letter obtained from an open records request Kline asked Attorney General Morrison for legal assistance to respond to a Supreme Court order by Oct. 19, 2007.  Kline asked for this legal assistance since the matter was regarding his actions as the duly elected Attorney General or District Attorney.

Even though Morrison had entered the secret case against Kline, Morrison saw no conflict of interest when he denied Kline’s request for legal assistance in an Oct. 11, 2007 letter.  Morrison forced Kline to face the Kansas Supreme Court as a private citizen.

As the secret case evolved, Kline repeated his appeal on Nov. 7, 2007 to AG Morrison for legal representation as an elected official to respond to a subpoena by Nov. 14, 2007.  Morrison waited till Nov. 13, 2007 to deny this second request for help.

The public is still largely in the dark about the secret Supreme Court matter against citizen Phill Kline.

Justice Beier wrote majority opinion critical of Kline but was admonished by Chief Justice

The Kansas Supreme Court announced its decision in the secret case against Phill Kline on  Dec. 5, 2008 after releasing some information in May 2008 from an evidentiary hearing held in Dec. 2007.

One of Kline’s responses to the Court summarized the matter:

This Court should be under no illusions about what Petitioner [Planned Parenthood] is asking of it.  Petitioner, a criminal defendant in a pending criminal proceeding, is asking the Court to strip the prosecutor in that action of evidence lawfully obtained and, essentially give that evidence back to the criminal defendant.

Justice Carol Beier wrote the majority opinion in which Kline prevailed in the substantive legal issues in the case.

But Beier was sharply critical of Kline and said Kline had been “far from full and forthright” in his dealings with the court.  Beier suggested Kline was ethically suspect and might merit punishment as severe as losing his law license.

The high court’s legal ruling appeared to contain political analysis related to Kline when the court discussed a possible $50,000 sanction against Kline:

We are unwilling to make those taxpayers foot any further bill for the conduct of a district attorney they did not elect in the first place and have now shown the door.

“Shown the door” is proper legal analysis in a Supreme Court decision?

Then Chief Justice Kay McFarland admonished her fellow justices:

…the majority is more interested in reprimanding Kline for his attitude and behavior in the course of this litigation than in remediating the failure to leave a complete set of the investigation records for the incoming Attorney General. It appears to me that the majority invokes our extraordinary inherent power to sanction simply to provide a platform from which it can denigrate Kline for actions that it cannot find to have been in violation of any law and to heap scorn upon him for his attitude and behavior that does not rise to the level of contempt. This is the very antithesis of “restraint and discretion” and is not an appropriate exercise of our inherent power.

Justice Robert Davis also thought the majority’s rebuke of Kline was too much:

The fundamental problem with the majority’s decision to impose sanctions in this case is that there is no objective test–statutory or otherwise–by which the court can measure Kline’s conduct and by which attorneys can avoid such penalties in the future.”

November Election

Justice Beier spoke for the Court in saying Kline went too far in his enforcement of Kansas laws about abortion as Attorney General and later District Attorney, but KFL says the Supreme Court went too far in blocking any hearings about enforcement actions of abortion laws.

This battle now will be taken to the voters in November.


Update (6/21)

In a telephone interview, an IRS spokeswoman said loans are not considered contributions when filling out an IRS 8872 form, but any loans made by a political organization would be reported under Schedule L on an IRS 990.  The instructions for that form indicate only loans outstanding at the end of an organization’s tax year would be reported.

Since IRS 990s are filed months after the close of a fiscal year, information about any loan(s) made to a 527 organization may not be knowable by the public for 18 months or more.

The IRS spokeswoman confirmed that two separate EINs (employer ID numbers) does mean two organizations.


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Contact: Earl F Glynn, earl@kansaswatchdog.org, KansasWatchdog.org

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