Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Lynn Jenkins and Britani Potter Spar over Taxes, Guns and Government at Contentious Debate

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Lynn Jenkins and Britani Potter Spar over Taxes, Guns and Government at Contentious Debate

Article excerpt

Within minutes of the start of a televised debate this week, U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins and her Democratic opponent, Britani Potter, were bitterly accusing each other of impropriety, the latest rhetorical battle in a war of words that has included accusations of corruption, sabotage and incompetence.

Public television station KTWU and an area League of Women Voters hosted the forum for Jenkins, Potter and Libertarian James Houston Bales in Topeka on Monday night, the only debate this election cycle to feature all three. Potter used her opening remarks to accuse Jenkins of being bought by special interests, of dodging debates and mocked the congresswoman's frequent use of the word "folks."

"This is a manipulative way to portray herself as one of us, a hardworking Kansan working tirelessly to make a better life for our families. The reality is she's a corrupt career politician who has spent the past eight years working against everyday Kansans in order to appease her wealthy donors and special interest groups," Potter said.

It was the opening broadside in what was a testy 60 minutes. Jenkins urged viewers to not take Potter seriously, then accused her of violating campaign finance laws.

"In the finance report she just filed, late, yesterday, she took illegal contributions from the Democrat Party in many counties and that violates state law. So I think you just have to take everything she says with a grain of salt," Jenkins said.

Potter has raised a modest $13,073 to date, a third of which came from her own pockets, and spent nearly all of it. In July, she received $500 from the Bourbon County Democratic Party and $200 from the Franklin County Democratic Party. Potter called such donations "common and legal."

County party offices can donate money from their federal campaign accounts to a federal candidate but cannot donate money from their state campaign accounts to a federal candidate, said Carol Williams at the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission. It won't be known which accounts the county offices donated from until state campaign finance filings at the end of the month.

If Potter received donations from state accounts, she will be required to refund the $700, Williams said.

Jenkins has raised more than $2 million, spent $674,138 and has $1.6 million on hand, according to Federal Election Commission reports.

When Nick Haines, a KCPT television host, asked the candidates to name the most pressing problem facing the nation, Potter cited campaign contributions, Bales named the criminal justice system and Jenkins said the national debt.

Haines then asked the trio to name three things the federal government currently does that it should not be doing. Bales listed marijuana criminalization, defense spending waste and government misspending.

"How much money has the F-35 program thrown into a rat hole for a plane that barely flies? We need to reexamine the Defense Department and find these programs that are not producing weapons that are designed for our wars but are designed for wars generals wish they were fighting," Bales said.

Jenkins listed the Affordable Care Act, the Wall Street reform bill known as the Dodd-Frank Act, and over-regulation of small businesses.

"We all know Obamacare has failed at this point," she said. "The question is, where do we go from here? We need to drive a stake through the heart of Obamacare, replace it with something that works better for the American people, that makes health care affordable for the American people."

Potter did not have an answer to the question, saying she couldn't name three things the federal government should stop doing, but agreed regulations of small businesses can be onerous and urged Congress to grant more control to local governments.

The Jenkins campaign seized on the answer, mentioning it on Twitter and in a news release after the debate. …

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