(TNS) — A dark money group connected to a Koch-funded organization has begun airing a TV ad praising Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer.
The State Government Leadership Foundation's donors are secret. But the organization is a "strategic partner" of the Republican State Leadership Committee, according to its website. That group has received more than $932,000 from Koch Industries since 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which compiles IRS data.
The State Government Leadership Foundation and Republican State Leadership Committee share the same Washington, D.C., address and the same leader. Matthew Walter is director of the Leadership Foundation and president of the Leadership Committee.
The Leadership Foundation said this week it began airing the ad on broadcast and cable television, and online. The organization is spending more than $80,000 in the Wichita media market, according to Federal Communications Commission records.
The link raises questions about whether Koch Industries — and Charles and David Koch by extension — are supportive of Colyer's candidacy. Finance reports that would show any direct donations to Colyer's campaign aren't due until the end of the year.
The ad comes as Colyer waits to become governor. Gov. Sam Brownback is expected to resign if confirmed to a diplomatic post by the U.S. Senate.
"We're appreciative they've undertaken this effort to introduce people to the real Dr. Colyer," Kendall Marr, Colyer spokesman, said in reference to the Leadership Foundation.
Koch Industries did not immediately comment.
As a 501(c)4 social welfare organization, the Leadership Foundation does not have to disclose its donors. Under IRS rules, social welfare organizations are allowed to promote or oppose candidates as long as it's not the group's primary activity.
The ad does not explicitly endorse Colyer or even mention that he is running for governor in 2018 in a large field of candidates. As it begins, text on screen reads "Who is Kansas' Next Governor?"
Colyer is a plastic surgeon. One of his former patients speaks about him in the ad. Scarlett Alex, of Olathe, was born with a birth defect affecting the growth of her face, and Colyer operated when she was a child.
"Dr. Colyer will be a great governor," Alex says in the ad. "He does the right thing even when nobody's looking."