Schodorf: Kansas GOP's Ethics Complaint Dismissed

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Kansas' ethics commission has dismissed a state Republican Party complaint accusing the presumed Democratic nominee for secretary of state of illegally soliciting contributions from lobbyists through Facebook, the Democrat said Wednesday.

Former state Sen. Jean Schodorf's campaign said the Governmental Ethics Commission notified her of its decision after the commission's regular monthly meeting Wednesday. The Democratic challenger said the commission told her it found no probable cause to believe that she had violated a law prohibiting statewide candidates from seeking contributions from lobbyists when the Legislature is in session.

The complaint was filed last month by the Clay Barker, the state GOP's executive director, over a May 1 posting on a Facebook page for Schodorf's campaign, seeking help in raising money. Barker said at least one lobbyist had liked the page and could view the page. Legislators did not adjourn their session until May 30.

Schodorf, from Wichita and the only Democrat running, hopes to unseat conservative Republican incumbent Kris Kobach, though he faces an opponent in the Aug. 5 GOP primary.

The commission's executive director, Carol Williams, told Barker in a private letter last month that it would review his complaint Wednesday and decide whether to schedule a public hearing that could lead to a fine against Schodorf. But the commission made no announcement after Wednesday's meeting.

Williams and commission members refused to discuss the matter with The Associated Press, in line with a policy of not commenting on complaints — or even confirming their existence — until a public hearing is set.

Barker said that without knowing the reasons behind the dismissal, he's surprised because several lobbyists complained to him about the Schodorf posting on Facebook.

In September 2012, the commission fined two GOP legislative candidates $100 each for posting information about fundraisers on their Facebook pages while the Legislature was in session. It was the first time the commission applied the anti-solicitation law to social media.

"This will just add to the confusion surrounding the use of social media in soliciting campaign funds," Barker said.

Schodorf said her campaign has been in regular contact with the commission about legal issues. She accused Republicans of trying to avoid substantive issues in the race.

"They have resorted to this: making false and juvenile accusations, and generally acting like spoiled children throwing a tantrum in a sandbox," Schodorf said.

Posted by: Nick Viviani