Home Finance Morning Digest: GOP congressman had reckless driving conviction erased by his business partner’s son

Morning Digest: GOP congressman had reckless driving conviction erased by his business partner’s son

Morning Digest: GOP congressman had reckless driving conviction erased by his business partner’s son

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Kentucky, New York, and Virginia held their downballot primaries on Tuesday, while runoffs took place in Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina. You can find the results at the links for each state, and we”;ll have a comprehensive rundown in our next Digest. Note, though, that we will not know the final results for some races for several days or more: Kentucky”;s Board of Elections, for instance, has advised all counties to wait until June 30 before releasing any results, while New York will not count its absentee ballots for at least a week after the primary.

Leading Off

KS-Sen: Republican Rep. Roger Marshall earned some ugly headlines this week after the Kansas City Star reported that the prosecutor who erased Marshall’s 2008 conviction for reckless driving was the son of the congressman’s business partner. The news comes six weeks ahead of the Aug. 4 Republican primary for Kansas’ open Senate seat.

Parts of this story had already been publicized in 2016, when Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp, whom Marshall was running against at the time, ran an ad on the topic. Back in 2008, Marshall was initially charged with battery and reckless driving after a neighbor named Randy Suchy accused Marshall of hitting him with a truck. As part of a negotiation with prosecutors, the battery charge was later dropped. In exchange, Marshall pleaded no contest to reckless driving and was given a five-day suspended jail sentence plus a $225 fine.

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However, the reckless driving conviction was subsequently wiped from the records and reduced to a traffic infraction–;”failure to exercise due care in regard to a pedestrian”–;while Marshall’s fine was cut to $45. Marshall later settled a civil lawsuit with Suchy out of court, though Marshall has always denied he hit his neighbor. In 2016, Huelskamp aired television ads featuring audio of Suchy calling 911 right after his confrontation with Marshall, who at the time was a practicing obstetrician, but Marshall went on to unseat Huelskamp by a convincing 57-43 margin.

The story attracted little attention in the following years until the Kansas City Star released its new report over the weekend. The paper revealed that prosecutor Carey Fleske, who had successfully convinced a judge to wipe Marshall’s reckless driving conviction clean, was the son of the future congressman’s business partner, Leonard Fleske. Marshall and the elder Fleske had co-founded a surgical center together in 2000, and the two were neighbors.

One former prosecutor who spoke with the Star, Patrick McInerney, described Carey Fleske’s efforts to expunge Marshall’s record as “bizarre,” saying the process used is normally reserved for clerical errors, such as “where a 1 should have been a 2. It’s not to replace a whole charge.” McInerny added that the charge Marshall ultimately wound up with was the sort a driver would get for having their “front wheels going over the white line in the crosswalk.”

Marshall told KWCH in response, “I didn’t even know who the prosecutor was since it was such a small matter …;. In a small city, you know everybody. There’s not an attorney in town whose kid I haven’t delivered or played ball with, so that’s life in a small city, and again, that’s not the focus.” Marshall also refused the Star’s request to release an affidavit that might shed light on the matter.

This newly surfaced story, however, did not appear to give Marshall’s allies any pause: On Tuesday, the deep-pocketed U.S. Chamber of Commerce also gave the congressman a potentially valuable endorsement. Much of the Republican establishment, both in Kansas and D.C., has rallied around Marshall in the hopes that he can stop former Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who lost a bid for governor in 2018 to Democrat Laura Kelly, from winning the party’s nomination and jeopardizing the GOP’s chances of holding this seat in November.


AL-Sen: The Republican firm Cygnal, which says it has no client in this race, is out with a poll that shows both Republican candidates defeating Democratic Sen. Doug Jones by double digits. Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions leads the incumbent 45-35, while former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville is ahead by a larger 50-36 spread. The survey was released around the same time that Jones dropped a mid-May poll showing him trailing Tuberville by a small 47-44 margin.

Jones is also out with his opening TV spot, which is focused on racial justice. The senator tells the audience, “As he lay dying, George Floyd cried for his mama and pleaded for his life: ‘I can’t breathe.’ As we witnessed his death together, the world changed.” Jones continues, “Across Alabama, folks are struggling with this–;seeing injustice and inequality and wanting to see that end. We cannot let this moment pass.”

AZ-Sen: The conservative group One Nation has launched what Politico reports is a new $1 million TV, radio, and digital buy supporting GOP Sen. Martha McSally. The TV spot, like so many Republican commercials in this race, relies on anti-China xenophobia, with the narrator declaring, “Most drugs in your medicine cabinet can be traced back to China. They control our supply of medicines.” The ad goes on to praise McSally for “fighting to end our dangerous dependence on China.”

CO-Sen: Former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff’s new ad for the June 30 Democratic primary portrays him as an alternative to both former Gov. John Hickenlooper and Republican Sen. Cory Gardner. After calling for “hope over fear” and a “new generation of leadership,” Romanoff argues, “My opponents are playing the same old insider politics that’s way more about them than it is about you.” The campaign says it is spending $175,000 on TV and online to air this spot.

Romanoff’s commercial comes around the same time that a pro-Hickenlooper group called Let’s Turn Colorado Blue has been airing anti-Romanoff commercials. The group reports that it has spent $1 million so far, which is larger than the $750,000 we originally reported.

Meanwhile, Romanoff earned an endorsement last week from the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, which the Denver Post says is the state’s largest private sector union.


MT-Gov: The first campaign finance reports of the general election are out, and Republican Greg Gianforte ended June 15 with a $594,000 to $169,000 cash-on-hand lead over Democrat Mike Cooney. Cooney has been getting some outside help from the DGA, though, which recently began airing commercials against Gianforte.

VT-Gov: EMILY’s List has endorsed Rebecca Holcombe, the former state education secretary, in the August Democratic primary to face Republican Gov. Phil Scott.


FL-03: On Monday, retiring Rep. Ted Yoho posted the following statement on Facebook about former aide and campaign manager Kat Cammack, who is running in the August Republican primary to succeed him:

My response in regard to my son Tyler Yoho’s statement that Kat Cammack was “fired, replaced, reassigned or whatever you want to call it.”

In 2013 Kat Cammack was demoted from Chief of Staff in my Washington, DC office to Deputy Chief of staff and reassigned to the district in Florida for reasons not to be disclosed, but not for the sole purpose of working on my re-election campaign as has been alluded to.

She continued to work for our office in a satisfactory manner until she decided to run for Congress herself.

No further comments are warranted.

Hours later, Yoho put out another post saying:

I would like to reiterate and emphasize my previous statement: I am not now nor have I ever endorsed any candidate in this race, neither officially/unofficially nor “behind the scenes”. If you are hearing anything to the contrary from any candidate or their team, it is FAKE NEWS.

Meanwhile another candidate, physician James Saint George, recently picked up an endorsement from neighboring Rep. Neal Dunn.

ME-02: The anti-tax Club for Growth has launched what Politico reports is a $400,000 buy in support of 2018 Senate nominee Eric Brakey ahead of the July 14 Republican primary to face freshman Democratic Rep. Jared Golden.

The spot extols Brakey, who was elected to the state Senate in 2014 at the age of 26, as “not a career politician,” and goes on to praise his support for term limits and opposition to Obamacare. The commercial also declares that Brakey “knows it’s time to get our economy open again,” though it doesn’t bother to mention the pandemic.

MI-10: The Club for Growth has launched what Politico reports is a $360,000 buy backing state Rep. Shane Hernandez in the August Republican primary for this safely red seat. After praising him on term limits the narrator declares, “In the state legislature, Hernandez fought [Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer’s reckless tax increases. Count on him to defend the Trump tax cuts in Washington.”

Meanwhile, businesswoman Lisa McClain also recently went up with a biographical commercial. McClain calls herself “a conservative outsider, proven job creator, and pro-Trump Republican.”

NJ-03: The NRA has endorsed businessman David Richter in the June 7 Republican primary to face freshman Democratic Rep. Andy Kim.

PA-01: On behalf of the Democratic group House Majority PAC, Victoria Research is out with a survey showing GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick and Democrat Christina Finello deadlocked 46-46; the poll also gives Joe Biden a 53-40 lead in a suburban Philadelphia seat that Hillary Clinton carried 49-47. These findings are very similar to a recent Public Policy Polling survey for Finello that showed her up 40-38 as Biden carried the district 56-40.

TX-13: The Club for Growth is out with a survey from WPA Intelligence that shows its endorsed candidate, former White House chief physician Ronny Jackson, leading lobbyist Josh Winegarner 49-41 in the July 14 Republican runoff. The memo says that an unreleased mid-May survey had Winegarner up 47-36, but Donald Trump backed Jackson during the time between the two polls.

TX-24: Air Force veteran Kim Olson uses her first ad of the July 14 Democratic runoff to stress her military service and how she “led the fight to care for women veterans and their families right here in Texas.”

Other Races

MT-AG: Only five Republican-held state attorney general offices will be on the ballot this November (Democrats are also defending five), and Montana looks like one of Team Blue’s better pickup opportunities. Democrats nominated Raph Graybill, who serves as chief legal counsel to Gov. Steve Bullock and has campaigned on administratively enacting automatic voter registration if elected, for this open seat, while the GOP is fielding Roosevelt County Attorney Austin Knudsen. Both men won contested primaries on June 2, and Graybill held a considerable $95,000 to $60,000 cash-on-hand lead on June 15.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: Republican Danny Tarkanian’s last obstacle to finally winning an election vanished on Monday when incumbent Dave Nelson announced that he would not seek a recount after all in the June 9 Republican primary for a seat on the Douglas County, Nevada, commission. Tarkanian faces no opposition in the general election, so his 17-vote primary victory means that, after six electoral losses, his seventh campaign really was a charm.

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