Conflict of Interest & Self-Enrichment: Working for Two Competing Candidates at Once

We have described the activities of KDP Executive Board Members Tom Witt, Chris Reeves and Ryon Carey ("The Smoky Hill Gang") this week under the auspices of several sole proprietor entities. See herehere and here

The true ownership of sole proprietorships in Kansas is difficult to track. The revenues received and disbursements made by those entities are, likewise, difficult, if not impossible, to track short of subpoena. 

After reviewing combined GEC and FEC documents earlier this week, including tracking the addresses that were reported on those reports, we were able to produce a detailed analysis of where campaign finance dollars were sent for the Smoky Hill Gang and related sole proprietor and incorporated entities. 

Several questions were raised by readers of those posts. One question, however, is particularly troubling. 

When did KDP Executive Committee member Ryon Carey stop working for Dan Giroux and start working for Independent candidate Miranda Allen in the 2016 KS-04 Congressional Election?

It's a serious question, because evidence compiled from those joint campaign finance disclosures from the Kansas Government Ethics Commission (GEC) and Federal Election Commission (FEC) demonstrates that KDP Executive Committee member Ryon Carey continued to be a business partner at both Smoky Hills Strategies and BNV Printing along with KDP Executive Committee members Tom Witt and Chris Reeves both before and after his close corporation, Post Rock Partners, Inc., was formed on May 18, approximately two weeks following Miranda Allen's run for Congress

Additionally, those combined public disclosures suggest that KDP Executive Committee member Ryon Carey, likewise, worked simultaneously for both the Independent and Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2016 KS-04 general election. 

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John Gibson: "This isn't going to be good for you..."

muhlithaler_threat.jpgThis post will outline my attempts to mediate this situation in the proper forums. However, the proponents of the recall petition against me have consistently refused to discuss this situation privately in order to come to a solution.

On September 28, 2017, Mr. Chris Reeves, our DNC Committeeman for Kansas, used his access at the DailyKos as his own personal bully pulpit to continue his lies and deception in order to cover up his own corrupt activity. Even recruiting out-of-state strangers to send me his article and harass me via Facebook messenger

Despite my continual, repeated attempts to resolve this situation amicably and promote unity behind closed doors, the forces in opposition to me have repeatedly chosen a public forum to discuss these issues.

Now I have no choice but to share my side of the story here as well. 

SUMMARY

Point 1: The KDP has real work to do.

My attempts to work with staff to professionalize the operations of the Kansas Democratic Party have been denied. While the status quo may be easy, we must demand transparency and professionalism in all operations of the organization. Our staff does excellent work and needs leadership to take the KDP to the next level to produce Democratic wins across Kansas. 

Point 2: I have been repeatedly restricted or undermined when I attempt to do work on behalf of the KDP.

I have worked professionally for Democratic campaigns for almost ten years. In that time, I have observed our traditions and understand the inner workings of the Kansas Democratic Party. Per the KDP Bylaws, Mr. Gibson has the discretion to appoint the chair and members of each standing committee. Mr. Gibson refused to appoint me to any standing committee and has not released the names of those serving on each standing committee so our membership can ensure these appointments comply with our bylaws. 

Mr. Gibson and Mr. Corson canceled ancillary caucus meetings for Demofest and refused to give discounted ticket prices to the Kansas Young Democrats in an effort to discredit me. 

Point 3: An informal resolution was possible.

Mr. Gibson chose to chastise me via email in front of the executive board and disclosed his personal dislike for me following the tweets cited in the recall petition. I initiated a discussion with Mr. Gibson to explain the situation and we agreed to work together going forward to ease tensions. Mr. Gibson refused to disclose who the concerned parties were so I could resolve the issues with them directly, however, he promised to advise me if there were further complaints about me so I could attempt to resolve those issues.

Point 4: John Gibson demonstrably failed to keep his promise to me and it resulted in a party-wide division. 

Despite my attempts to discuss these issues with concerned parties directly and mediate the situation behind closed doors, Mr. Gibson and Mr. Corson have refused to work together to heal this divide. They refused to work with me to keep this matter out of the public domain or facilitate a mediation between the factions. The first time Mr. Gibson spoke to me throughout this ordeal was to inform me that if I did not resign, he would send a letter in support of my recall. He never disclosed the additional accusations he made against me in his letter and refused the opportunity for me to present evidence to him prior to his decision. 

This entire saga was manufactured in an attempt to protect the activities of the other consultants upon the Executive Committee of the Kansas Democratic Party, particularly the Smoky Hill Gang, Tom Witt, Chris Reeves and Ryon Carey. This is a pattern of behavior from this crew designed to pressure me to resign so there is no opposition to their fraudulent and reprehensible conduct. Mr. Gibson, Ms. Hiatt, Mr. Hutton and Mr. Corson have refused any opportunity to heal this destructive divide within our party - we must demand more from our leadership. 


 

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Anatomy of a Hatchet Job: How the Smoky Hill Gang Removed Larry Meeker...with a Hatchet

Note: The blogs and news articles to this story have been provided in the Resources section of this post in order to prevent their destruction or other alteration. 


 

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Back in 2015, Chris Reeves used a deceptive and dishonest blog post (PDF) on the progressive blog Daily Kos to kick-off a hatchet-job on then-Kansas Democratic Party Chair Larry Meeker - a post that required a disclosure regarding Reeves' involvement with Smoky Hills Strategies. Reeves failed to make that disclosure, and he personally benefitted from the maneuver. Indeed, he continues to personally profit - or "self-enrich" - from the move today. 

The intent of Reeves' post on the Daily Kos was to create a re-shuffle on the Executive Committee of the Kansas Democratic Party. The reshuffle ultimately created notoriety and opportunity for Chris Reeves to fill an open seat for Democratic National Committee Man on the Kansas Democratic Party's Executive Board.

In his post on the Daily Kos, now-DNC man Reeves cited a poll from "Smoky Hills Strategies." Yesterday, we provided information that substantiates that Chris Reeves is a consultant and / or partner with "Smoky Hill Strategies" AKA "The Smoky Hill Gang." Indeed, Reeves admitted as much on Twitter after our post was made on social media.

Getting paid on both sides of the deal? While that's pretty lucrative, it's also incredibly dishonest and unethical. It also happens to be a practice that we do not believe Daily Kos would endorse if they knew the truth

 

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The Smoky Hill Gang: The Consultants of the KDP Executive Committee

Note - All disclosures cited herein are linked at the bottom of this post.


Public disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Governmental Ethics Commission (GEC) substantiate that, at least, four (4) other current members of the Executive Committee have acted as paid consultants to Democratic party committees and candidate committees across Kansas within the past year. 

  • Tom Witt - Tom Witt, the Progressive Caucus Chair (as well as Platform Chair and Budget & Finance Chair) has collected at least $58,843 over the last year while serving on the KDP's Executive Committee. Mr. Witt received disbursements to entities with the trade names Smoky Hills Strategies and BNV Printing or variants thereof. 
  • Ryon Carey - LGBT Caucus Chair Ryon Carey has earned at least $163,695 while serving on the KDP's Executive Committee (which included an appearance on an Independent candidate's finance report). Mr. Carey received disbursements to entities with the trade names Smoky Hills Strategies, BNV Printing, Swing Vote Media and Post Rock Partners, Inc. or variants of those trade names.
  • Chris Reeves - Chris Reeves, the DNC Man from Kansas has received $76,500 while serving on the KDP's Executive Committee. Mr. Reeves received disbursements to, at least, Smoky Hills Strategies, BNV Printing, and as an individual consultant.
  • Jim Ward - Before he was the House Democratic Leader,  Rep. Ward received $5,000 from the Kansas Democratic Party for Design and Printing Consultant services as an individual consultant.   

Three of those four Executive Committee members (Witt, Carey, Reeves) were members of the Executive Committee at the time they acted as consultants.

Unsurprisingly, they are also some of the strongest supporters of the recall petition against KDP Secretary Casey Yingling. In promoting the recall petition, those actors have painted a narrative of trading on insider information and conflict of interest without evidence or substantiation, because character assassination and projection are part of their dark arts playbook. 

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Tom Witt is a Bully

As a woman, I have always believed I have a duty to vote and to make sure all our voices are heard. Women who went before me sacrificed so much to ensure I even had a voice in the political conversation at all.

My heroes are women who step up and demand a seat at the table. Women like Casey Yingling.

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What Conflict of Interest?

The witch hunt aimed at Kansas Democratic Party Secretary, Casey Yingling, is focused on the accusation that her vote to support funding for James Thompson during the Special Election was a conflict of interest.

I have listened to the executive committee call that was shared by the author of the recall petition against Casey, Chair of the First District Democratic Caucus, Sage TeBeest. However, the tape does not tell the story that Ms. TeBeest wants it to tell. It is very clear to everyone that listens to the recording that there was a coordinated effort to interrupt a professional presentation by the Thompson campaign manager and Casey with their bait and switch attack routine.

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Disappointed Lifelong Democrat

I joined the Party when I was 18 years old. I grew up believing in the Democratic Party and believing in the process. I was a loyal Democrat that always voted party lines; my faith did not waiver. I trusted my Party.

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How the Kansas Democratic Party Tried to Steal the Nomination from James Thompson

Back in January of 2017, following the resignation of Mike Pompeo from his seat KS-04 seat in Congress, a nomination fight broke out in both the Republican and Democratic Parties.

While the Republican Party leadership and apparatus was content to allow the candidates to fight it out, the leadership of the Kansas Democratic Party saw it as an opportunity to hand-pick a candidate who could raise some much needed cash for their coffers. We thwarted that plan. 

Recently, the full involvement of the Kansas Democratic Party and members of the Executive Committee has become more clear following disclosures made with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). 

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I Joined ICTIndivisible to Stop Corruption

I joined ICTIndivisible to speak truth to power. To fight corruption in politics, and fight for progressive values and candidates. I didn’t know I would be fighting the Democratic Party. I thought I would be fighting Republicans, conservatives, and potentially some Libertarians. The Democratic Party has never mattered to me; the issues the Democratic Party claims to value are what matters.

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Welcome to Our New Platform to Change the Status Quo

stp_img.pngIn December, out of anger and frustration and disgust with the outcome of the November election, I started ICTindivisible.

It took lots of talking, begging, pleading, persuading, planning… I’d met with people I thought might be interested, run plans by them, strategize with them, set up meetings no one attended and then start all over again.

It took me two attempts and lots and lots of work and still for the first weeks, the only people to show up at meetings were me and my dear friend, Andrew.

And, then it happened…

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