Rep. Kevin Yoder has avoided paying payroll tax and providing benefits to his campaign employees by classifying them as “consultants,” a decision which, if a deliberate misclassification, could open the campaign to fines and criminal charges.
A review of Yoder’s campaign finance records showed that his campaign committee, Yoder for Congress Inc., paid 63 individuals for “consulting” since 2017, including three employees from the Kansas Republican’s congressional office.
Yoder’s campaign filings contain no disbursements for wages, staff, payroll or salary and no disbursements for payroll taxes that employers are required to pay for each employee. Yoder’s Democratic opponent, Sharice Davids, had paid $16,854.79 in payroll taxes as of Monday, according to her filings with the Federal Election Commission.
Brendan Jaspers’ LinkedIn lists his current job as “Director of Field and Data” for Yoder for Congress. Jaspers has received $5,985 for “Political Strategy Consulting” since June, according to Yoder’s FEC filings.
CJ Grover, who describes himself as Yoder’s campaign manager on Twitter, has received $36,460 for “Political Strategy Consulting.”
Michael Brooks, who does not list a campaign job on his LinkedIn, received $6,750 from Yoder’s campaign for “political strategy consulting & reimbursement.”
Yoder’s campaign has also paid more than $24,000 in consulting fees to Cate Stark Duerst or Duerst Consulting, the Kansas firm that she and her husband, Stephen Duerst, run, according to state records.
Yoder’s lack of employees extends beyond the campaign’s senior staff, as 59 individuals were hired as “Field Consultants” at a cost of almost $50,000.
At least three of Yoder’s campaign senior staffers also work for his congressional office.
Over roughly the same time period that Duerst or her firm was paid by the campaign — from February 2017 to July — she was paid more than $98,000 working in Yoder’s congressional office, according to LegiStorm, which tracks congressional pay. She is listed in the House directory as the coordinator of community outreach at Yoder’s office in Overland Park.
Brooks and Grover also worked for Yoder’s congressional office.
Brooks, who lists his job on LinkedIn as “Senior Legislative Assistant,” received more than $30,000 in salary in the first half of 2018 for his work in Yoder’s Washington office, according to LegiStorm.
Grover serves as Yoder’s communications director in the Overland Park office, according to the House directory, and has received $27,715 in taxpayer funded salary while drawing consulting fees from the campaign.
If Yoder’s campaign was found to have deliberately misclassified employees as contractors in an effort to avoid taxes it would be liable for fines of 20 percent of all wages paid as well as both the employer and employee portion of payroll taxes, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
Criminal fines and up to a year in prison could be imposed as well. Even if the campaign was inadvertent in misclassifying employees, it would still face a $50 fine per employee in addition to a percentage of the wages paid, according to Justworks, a payroll-management company.