Attorney John D. Stevens said Wednesday that he has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against independent expenditures made by Robert Kirkland in support of a House campaign being waged by his brother.
The brother, Ron Kirkland, is in a competitive Republican primary in the district now represented by Rep. John Tanner (D), who is retiring.
The complaint alleges that the expenditures should be considered coordinated spending, and thus an over-the-limit in-kind contribution, rather than independent spending.
The complaint, dated April 7, cites “the close familial tie between Kirkland and his brother” as evidence that Robert is materially involved with the campaign.
The FEC is notoriously slow to investigate complaints, so a resolution during the campaign cycle would be unusual.
Stevens, who worked as a staffer for former Tennessee Gov. Donald Sundquist (R), said he was moved to file the complaint because news of the independent expenditures “didn’t pass the smell test.” He said he backs a different candidate in the race but doesn’t have a role with an opposition campaign.
Kirkland is vying for the GOP nomination against Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn and farmer-gospel singer Stephen Fincher, a favorite of national Republicans.
The winner of the GOP primary will go on to face Democratic state Sen. Roy Herron in the general election.