Kander found taking in cash from firm with sketchy "donations for bonuses" scheme

Jason Kander, the Kansas carpetbagger currently locked in a tight race to unseat Roy Blunt in the Missouri Senate race, has been found to have taken significant campaign contributions from the Thornton Law Firm in Boston. That’s been a regular stop for Democrats looking for money, but they’ve drawn some unwanted attention for the way they handle their finances. It turns out that partners at Thornton have been donating to large numbers of Democrats and then “coincidentally” receiving bonuses in the exact same amount shortly after the checks clear. The Missouri GOP explains how the money piled up.

Jason Kander, who has taken millions of dollars from lobbyists and special interests in his Senate campaign, raked in tens of thousands of dollars in campaign cash through this illegal scheme. Records show that Jason Kander collected $25,000 from Thornton Law Firm employees on a single day in May 2015. Jason Kander and his wife, Diana, are both lawyers.

Experts say the Thornton Law Firm’s contributions to Jason Kander are illegal and allowed the firm to donate money in excess of campaign finance limits to Jason Kander.

Daniel Petalas, an attorney who served as acting general counsel of the FEC until September, told the Boston Globe that reimbursing donors is “among the most serious campaign violations, in the view of both the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice.”

In case you’re wondering how this works, the Boston Globe already looked into it and lays out how the process was handled when Montana’s Jon Tester came calling at Thornton.

Tester, a massive, jovial man who raises livestock on his family farm, was more compelling than many of the other breakfast guests, all of them political candidates the firm hoped would defend the interests of trial attorneys. But the drill was basically the same. The personal injury lawyers listened politely for a few minutes, then returned to their offices. And Tester walked away with $26,400 in checks.

But a striking thing happened the day Tester visited in 2010. Partner David C. Strouss received a payment from the firm labeled as a “bonus” that exactly equaled his $2,400 contribution to Tester’s campaign, the maximum allowed. A few days later, partner Garrett Bradley — until recently the House assistant majority leader on Beacon Hill — got a bonus, too, exactly matching his $2,400 gift to Tester.

After having been caught by the press, the law firm apparently didn’t stop the practice… they simply apologized for any confusing wording. You see, those weren’t “bonuses” the partners were receiving. They claimed the payments came the partners’ share of the firm’s equity which they would have gotten back when they left the firm anyway. They did admit they shouldn’t have called them bonuses though. I have no idea how a firm gets away with something like that, but apparently it’s possible.

Kander is far from the only Democrat to have tapped this particular cash cow, but some of the others who did so at least had the decency to give the money back. Those included Russ Feingold and Governor Maggie Hassan. If Kander doesn’t want to follow suit and admit that he’s been siphoning money off of a scheme which is at least morally dubious if not outright illegal, Missouri’s voters probably have all they need to know about his ethics.