The complaint, filed by the chairman of the board for Citizens Bank of Kansas and longtime Pompeo friend Jane Deterding, alleges that the Tiahrt campaign coordinated with the Kansans for Responsible Government super PAC and its treasurer, Willis “Wink” Hartman of Hartman Oil.
“I have known Mike and [his wife] Susan for over 15 years, so I’m not by any means unbiased,” said Deterding. “But I think there’s a lot here to be seen by anyone, of what’s going on.”
Hartman had no comment. Robert Noland, Tiahrt’s campaign manager, said any charges of collusion are baseless.
“Mike Pompeo’s made a lot of people angry over the past four years, and it’s no surprise that someone has begun to do some third-party work to remove him from office,” he said. “We were actually very very surprised to learn of the activity that was going on outside of our campaign when we first saw it.”
Tiahrt represented Kansas's 4th Congressional District from 1995 until 2011, when he ran in the Republican primary for an open Senate seat. He lost to Jerry Moran. Tiahrt announced in May of this year that he would challenge Pompeo in the Aug. 5 primary.
The FEC complaint alleges that there is “strong evidence that Hartman and Tiahrt have coordinated their communications efforts” and that “Wink Harman is an agent of Todd Tiahrt for purposes of promoting the candidacy of Todd Tiahrt.”
Hartman faced Pompeo and three others in the 2010 Republican primary for the seat.
A poll that SurveyUSA conducted for Wichita station KSN-TV in late June gave Pompeo a 17-point lead over Tiahrt. The Tiahart/Pompeo primary has already drawn national attention, and the Washington Post characterized it as “one of the most heated U.S. House Republican primaries of 2014.” It shows little sign of cooling down.