What interest would a practically-in utero political action committee with its roots in Georgia politics have in a Kansas judicial race? Evidently a lot, as chronicled by the Wichita Eagle:
A newly formed political action group is using a radio ad to hammer a Sedgwick County district judge for his professional conduct, a relatively rare move by an out-of-state group in such a hyper-local race that some say could alter the nature of judicial races in Wichita for years to come.
The ad by the Georgia-based super PAC Safe Nation comes in response to an ad by Sedgwick County District Court Judge Richard Ballinger’s campaign that pointed out how Sedgwick County attorneys gave better marks to Ballinger than his opponent, Zoe Newton, who works as an attorney for oilman Wink Hartman. …
The ads come from Safe Nation, which filed its initial paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission on Sept. 20. It showed only $100 in start-up money in its first finance filing. But with radio ads running in Wichita, it appears the PAC has raised and spent significantly more since its Oct. 11 financial disclosure. … The PAC’s treasurer, Bryan P. Tyson, and its chairman, Chip Lake, both list addresses in Georgia. They did not respond to calls from The Eagle on Wednesday afternoon.
Neither Tyson, who previously served as a policy aide to U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland and now practices election law in Atlanta, nor Lake, formerly Westmoreland’s chief of staff before running two of the state’s biggest Republican congressional primaries this cycles, had immediately apparent ties to the Sunflower State.
Ballinger, the judge targeted by the pair’s effort, struck back at the Dixie duo in a new radio advertisement decrying their “secret Georgia money.”
“Sure, politics is a tough game. But secret Georgia money to elect a judge whose job it is to be fair and impartial? That may happen in Deleware and Illinois, where Zoe Newton practiced law, but it’s never happened in Kansas,” the ad says. “And it shouldn’t happen now.”
An incredulous narrator asks, twisting the knife: “It’s got to make you wonder, if Zoe Newton is elected, who will she work for, you or her secret money people?”
Because one of Safe Nation’s spots explicitly lobbies voters to cast their ballots for Newton, the incumbent’s challenger, the group’s advocacy necessitates a thorough accounting with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission by a date no later than October 29. As of the 26th, however, none of the group’s expenses or receipts had yet been disclosed to local campaign finance officials.