Saturday’s Chanute Tribune published an article, “Umbarger’s campaign expenditures questioned by foe.” The article described Senate candidate Iris Van Meter’s (R, Thayer) questioning of two expenditures in the campaign finance report filed on July 28 by her opponent, Senator Dwayne Umbarger (R, Thayer).
Umbarger’s report listed a $1738 expenditure to Carolina Carports, which was likely spent for the carport on Umbarger’s farm, which is shown at the left. Does this carport look like a structure suitable for “Storage for Legislative Service, Campaign Signs, and Campaign Information”? [What is "Legislative Service" and how does one store it?]
Here is the summary page from Senator Umbarger’s recent campaign report:
One of the expenditures in this report was $1738 to Carolina Carports in Bronaugh, MO for a carport for “Storage for Legislative Service, Campaign Signs, and Campaign Information”:
The Aug 2 Chanute Tribune article quoted Kris Van Meteren, son and campaign spokesman of Iris Van Meter:
“I’ve reviewed a lot of campaign finance reports and I’ve never seen anyone take money out of their campaign account to build themselves a garage in which to park their car”
The Tribune gave this response by Umbarger:
Umbarger replied that the carport expense was actually for a shed he was in the process of building to hold legislative and election papers and other materials. Because the building is still unfinished, he said he amended his report to delete the expense from his campaign expenditures to remove any question of the structure’s intent. …
“We amended our report and did everything, we hope, we can to amend the report properly within the guidelines”
How did Senator Umbarger know to file this amendment on July 31 for his July 28 report? Is Umbarger clairvoyant?
Item #2 – July 8, 2008 expenditure $1738.21 for an aluminum storage building to keep campaign signs and other campaign and legislative paraphrenalia. We are still in the process of constructing this storage facility. Therefore, I’ve decided to reimburse my campaign for the expense until such time as the building is complete and actually being used for its intended purpose.
On Aug 5. Kris Van Meteren sent a letter to Carol Williams of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission about this matter [Van Meteren copied various newspapers with his letter, including the Kansas City Star, the Wichita Eagle, and the Topeka Capital-Journal. The letter was also provided to the Meadowlark].
In his letter to the Ethics Commission, Van Meteren raises various questions about the carport
I am writing to follow up to our conversation on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 29, 2008. You will recall from that conversation that I raised two issues related to Senator Dwayne Umbarger’s Report of Receipts and Expenditures filed on Monday, July 28, 2008:
1. I raised concern and brought to your attention an expenditure of $1,738.21 Mr. Umbarger made on 7/8/08 to Carolina Carports of Bronough, Missouri. You will recall that I raised several questions about the validity of that expenditure including:
A) Whether a candidate could use campaign funds to purchase a structure that would become permanently affixed to his real property and, therefore, add to the value of his real property and potentially become subject to property taxation.
B) Whether the reason Mr. Umbarger gave for the expenditure (“Storage for Legislative Service, Campaign Signs, and Campaign Information”) was truly valid given that most carports have open sides, exposing their contents to the elements, rodents and insects. You will recall that I raised a number of questions about whether one would truly store “campaign information” or even “campaign signs” in a structure that is open to the elements.
Van Meteren also gave facts suggesting Senator Umbarger may have purchased a late model car and may have wanted the carport to protect the car, since the structure did not appear conducive to storage of campaign and legislative documents.
Consider the dates Van Meteren gives:
- July 28, report filed.
- July 29 PM, Van Meteren talks to Ethics Commissioner about report.
- July 30, Umbarger drafts amendment to July 28 report.
- July 31, Kansas Governmental Ethics receives amendment.
Van Meteren challenged the Ethics Commission Executive Director to explain how Umbarger knew to file the amendment the day after his conversation with her:
Interestingly, the very next day after I was in your office and raised questions about these expenditures, Mr. Umbarger hastily filed an amendment to his campaign finance report, backing out and reimbursing his campaign for the very two expenditures about which I had raised questions. In your opinion, how did Mr. Umbarger know to do that or what prompted him to so quickly amend his report and address the very two questions I had raised the previous afternoon in your office? More to the point, did you or any member of your staff directly or indirectly contact Mr. Umbarger or see that he became aware of my visit to your office and the questions I was raising? To be blunt, I find it very difficult to believe that he knew to amend these two portions of his report less than 24 hours after I raised questions about them in your office. I am asking you directly for an answer as to whether you or anyone else in or affiliated with your office in any way tipped Mr. Umbarger off to the questions I was raising and, if so, why?
Van Meteren concluded his letter by asking for an investigation of this matter, and an investigation about another $500 expenditure that seemed questionable.
KOAM TV, Joplin/Pittsburg, reported that incumbent Senator Umbarger prevailed in the election on Tuesday:
For District 14, Dwayne Umbarger faced Iris VanMeter for the Republican nod to become state senator. Umbarger is announced as the winner and will face Democrat David Miller to see who goes to the state capitol for the next lawmaking session.
- Missing Campaign Finance Reports, Kansas Meadowlark, Aug 1, 2008.
- Ethics Commission’s “Top 20? PAC list missing 10 PACs?, Kansas Meadowlark, July 18, 2008.
- Kansas Ethics Commission ignores missing $25,000 payment by PAC?, Kansas Meadowlark, July 2, 2008.
- Kansas Ethics Commission can’t find political activist, who didn’t file PAC report, but newspapers can?, Kansas Meadowlark, July 1, 2008.