Ex-lawmaker faces sentencing for fraud to finance campaign
Wichita A former Kansas legislator is due to be sentenced for defrauding a bank to help fund his political activities in a federal case that highlights the state's lax state campaign finance laws.
Former Republican state Rep. Trent LeDoux, 41, of Holton, pleaded guilty to bank fraud last May and agreed to pay $465,100 under a deal with federal prosecutors. The charge carries a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison, but the LeDoux is likely to get little, if any, prison time at his hearing Monday in Topeka due to sentencing guidelines.
The hearing was postponed several times because LeDoux was being treated for several health issues, including cancer. His attorney, J. Richard Lake, asked the federal court for leniency, saying LeDoux's health problems would be easier to treat if he sentenced to home detention rather than in prison. Lake didn't respond to a phone message seeking comment.
LeDoux was appointed to fill a House vacancy in May 2011 following the death of fellow Republican Rocky Fund. He lost his seat in the Republican primary in August 2012, when the lines of his House seat were redrawn and he was defeated by Rep. Richard Carlson of St. Marys.
According to prosecutors, LeDoux fraudulently obtained three bank loans to buy cattle, but instead he deposited a total of $28,000 into his campaign account in late 2011 and 2012 and paid off other debts.
Although he broke a federal law, LeDoux's actions didn't violate Kansas' campaign finance laws, said Carol Williams, executive director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission.
"That has nothing to do with us," Williams said. "It was still his money, the bank loaned him the money."
As long as candidates don't launder money into their campaigns that actually comes from somebody else, it isn't an issue, she said.
"It is their money — however they obtain it — and a candidate has no limitation on the amount of money they can contribute to their campaign," Williams said.
The only penalty LeDoux is facing under state law is an unrelated $120 fine for filing a late campaign finance report, she said.