By Kelsey Ryan
The Wichita Eagle
(MCT) A complaint filed with state and local election officials claims the group opposing the 1-cent sales tax has violated state law with its political advertising.
The complaint states that people "believed to be the Coalition for a Better Wichita and/or its Chairman Trent Sebits have been running print newspaper ads in the Wichita Eagle, financing Robo Calls, and mailing brochures and other campaign materials to Wichita, Kansas residents in violation of the criminal statute KSA 25-2407(a)(3)(4)(5)."
The statute says it is a Class C misdemeanor to:
Pay for advertising in a newspaper without labeling it as advertising and including "the name of the chairman of the political or other organization"
Pay for advertising on the radio or TV without "'Paid for' or 'Sponsored by' followed by the name of the sponsoring organization and the name of the chairperson or treasurer of the political or other organization," or to publish a flier, brochure or political fact sheet without that information.
The complaint was filed with the secretary of state, Sedgwick County election commissioner, the Sedgwick County district attorney and the state Attorney General's Office by Moji Fanimokun, attorney and co-chair for Yes Wichita, which backs the sales tax.
Jennifer Baysinger, spokeswoman for the Coalition for a Better Wichita, would not comment when asked about the complaint at an event Monday night. She said it was an inappropriate time to talk, that she did not know about the complaint and that she needed to research it.
Fanimokun said the Yes Wichita campaign hopes election officials will act quickly to investigate.
"We understand they're the biggest kid on the playground, but even the biggest kid on the playground has to play by the rules," Fanimokun said. "We're doing our best to make sure we're running an honest, truthful campaign, and we would hope with as much money as they're throwing at their campaign they would attempt to do the same."
"We'd like to see the truth in their advertising and some type of enforcement on the rules that are in place to make sure they disclose exactly who their treasurer is and how they're paying for their ads."
The Eagle recently looked at Federal Communications Commission filings for local broadcasters and found that the "no" campaign spent nearly half a million dollars on advertising with TV and radio stations, while the "yes" campaign spent about $60,000 as of Oct. 18.
"The Coalition for a Better Wichita has been running numerous radio and television ads, mailers and robo calls, so it's likely violations have been in the thousands," the complaint says.
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