Danedri Thompson
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There appear to be discrepancies between the Kansas Gaming and Racing Commission, the Kansas Department of Revenue and the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office on what constitutes a “raffle.”
In part, the confusion results from a recent constitutional amendment, for which the state legislature has yet to adopt statutes that will regulate legal raffles.
An investigator for the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office confirmed that an attorney from that office reviewed links to information about Lee Moore, a candidate for Gardner City Council, and deemed they did not meet the definition of a Kansas lottery.
The investigator refused to be named and also refused to name the attorney that reviewed Moore’s campaign materials. The Gardner News has made a Kansas Open Records Act request to Steve Howe, D.A., for those emails and links, but they have not yet been presented.
On his campaign Facebook page, Moore, a candidate for Gardner City Council, said his “free drawing is not a raffle by any stretch of the legal definition.”
Moore has circulated a campaign flyer advertising a drawing for a Garmin vivosmart. It suggests a $10 donation per entry for the drawing. The flyers also have a disclaimer: “No purchase is necessary to win.”
“I thoroughly researched raffles, and I am aware of the prohibition on raffles in the state of Kansas… Though I am confident in my own ability to read and interpret the law, I contacted the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office and sent my literature and entry forms via email… They assured me that nothing in what I sent them has the appearance of a raffle.”
Moore is one of at least three candidates for local offices using drawing or raffle to raise campaign funds.
Fundraising flyers for Rich Melton, a city council candidate, also say, “No purchase necessary to win.” Flyers for Greg Chapman fundraisers do not have the disclaimer.
Prior to Kansas voters approving a Constitutional Amendment legalizing raffles for charitable purposes, the Kansas Gaming and Racing Authority oversaw lotteries and raffles. After voters approved the amendment, the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR) was given oversight of charitable gaming.
According to the Kansas Gaming and Racing Authority, “the purpose of a raffle is to make a sum of money. This only happens if some tickets are sold. Giving tickets for free does not make a raffle legal, because other tickets are sold that make the overall raffle an illegal lottery.”
Jeanine Koranda, a spokesperson for KDOR, said until the legislature finalizes statutes for charitable gaming this session, all raffles, including those for non-profit organizations, are illegal.
Rep. Bill Sutton, R-Gardner, said when he voted to put the raffle question on the November 2014 ballot, he thought the amendment’s intent was to allow raffles for charities only.
“I thought the constitutional amendment was for charitable raffles by non-profits,” he said.
Sutton has agreed to request from Secretary of the Kansas Department of Revenue, Nick Jordan, a formal opinion on the legality of the Chapman, Melton and Moore campaign flyers.
Though Jordan is not obligated to respond to the formal request from a legislator, Sutton said he would be surprised if Jordan refused.
At press time, Moore had not responded to a phone call request for an interview.
Information for this story will be updated as it is received.