TOPEKA, Kan. — While a $500,000 loan from Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer to the re-election campaign of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback raised a few eyebrows, analysts say the gift is part of a growing practice.
Colyer made the contribution to Brownback's campaign on Dec. 31, the last day of the recent reporting period. The money pushed Brownback's total for the preceding 12 months to more than $1.6 million. Before the loan, the campaign had raised funds roughly equal to that raised by presumed Democratic nominee Paul Davis.
The Kansas City Star reported that the practice of private loans has been growing in recent years in U.S. politics. The practice is legal.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, federal candidates spent $130 million of their own funds on campaigns in 2012. The National Institute on Money in State Politics found that in 2010 that the top-10 self-funders in state races spent $250,000 on their campaigns, an average of 83 percent of all the money they were able to raise.
Analysts said the contributions are a sign that Brownback intends to show Democrats and donors that he's not taking the race lightly.
"When you're in Brownback's position — a Republican governor in a Republican state — the perception that a Democrat has pulled even with you is no good," said Michael Smith, a political science professor at Emporia State University.
Others said the advertising that will result from the money will outweigh any negativity attached to it.
"The Colyer contribution was an effort on the part of the Brownback campaign folks to plump up his war chest and make clear that Davis' efforts weren't going to upset the re-election apple cart," said Washburn University political science professor Mark Peterson.
Brownback and his campaign team deflect any notion that his re-election effort was in trouble and needed the funds.
"I am committed to Kansas and doing everything I can to serve this state," Brownback told The Star in a brief interview. "We're going to run a strong campaign to continue to serve the state of Kansas."
Kansas campaign finance laws do not restrict how much money a candidate can loan to their campaigns. Carol Williams, executive director of the commission, said individuals outside the campaign may make loans, but they have to be repaid before the election or it becomes a contribution, subject to the $2,000 donation cap each for the primary and general election.
Davis didn't report making any loans to his campaign, collecting contributions from labor organizations and the legal community, including Alan Rupe, a Wichita attorney suing the state over school funding.