TOPEKA (KSNT) – The governor has asked the state’s ethics commission to review a mass text message blast accusing her of using state money to sponsor drag shows.

Governor Laura Kelly’s campaign spokeswoman called the accusation false, and a desperate stunt.

“Derek Schmidt should be embarrassed. First, he’s ‘unable to provide evidence about his own false attack at a press conference. Then he digs in his heels after reporters debunk his lies, and now he’s spreading lies to voters through text messages. This is why Kansas newspapers call Schmidt ‘substance-free.’ Schmidt will do anything to distract from his own record of defending Sam Brownback. Governor Kelly remains focused on fully funding our schools, cutting taxes, and bringing new businesses to the state.” 

Lauren Fitzgerald, Gov. Laura Kelly spokesperson

A mass text was sent to phones in Kansas accusing the governor, a democrat, and her Department of Commerce of funding the “all ages” drag show.

C. J. Grover, Campaign Manager for Derek Schmidt’s campaign, responded to the governor saying, “…the state’s good name was used to promote all-ages drag show on her watch, nobody else’s.”

“The reality is the Kelly administration was listed as a sponsor or supporter for each of these events, did provide grant funding to these venues or organizations that then put on all-ages drag shows, and did require these organizations use the logo and the good name of the State of Kansas for promotional purposes for their shows,” Grover said.

In a press conference Monday, Schmidt – Kelly’s Republican opponent in November’s election – claimed that state money was used to sponsor several drag shows. That includes one that took place in Lawrence earlier this year, and two taking place in Wichita this month.

The state has not yet addressed claims about the state-sponsored drag show that took place in Lawrence. According to the City of Lawrence website, the drag show was part of the Art + Culture + Crossings program in June. The website said it’s a collaborative art program made possible by a Reimagined Spaces grant from the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

As for the drag shows in Wichita, the state department of commerce and Governor Kelly have denied Schmidt’s claims.

Patrick Lowry, a spokesman for the Kansas Department of Commerce said, “Neither the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission nor the Kansas Department of Commerce sponsored the DADA Ball event that took place October 22 or the Mall Monster Mash event scheduled for Oct. 28.”

Lowry went on to give another statement to Capitol Bureau on Wednesday:

Again, the idea that the Kansas Department of Commerce sponsored the drag show in Lawrence is blatantly false. The City of Lawrence Public Arts Commission determined how to direct all funds.

Patrick Lowry

According to the state’s commerce department, the organizer of the DADA ball mistakenly listed KCAIC in association with the event. Neither the KCAIC nor the Kansas Department of Commerce sponsored the October 22 event.