08/02/2012 04:29 pm ET Updated Aug 02, 2012

Joe Patton, Kansas Legislator, Accused Of Violating McDonald's Copyright In Radio Ad

An Americans for Prosperity-backed candidate for the Kansas state Senate is being accused of violating McDonald's copyright over use of the term "Happy Meal" in a new ad.

State Rep. Joe Patton (R) uses the popular children's meal term in a new radio ad to describe the fiscal policies of his opponent, Sen. Vicki Schmidt (R), in next Tuesday's Republican primary, the Topeka Capitol-Journal reports.

Patton is one of the conservative Republicans seeking to oust moderate Republican senators in an effort to wrest control of the chamber from the moderates. The conservative challenger is being backed by Gov. Sam Brownback (R), the state Chamber of Commerce and the Koch brothers group AFP as part of the escalating GOP civil war unfolding in the state.

Patton uses the ad to accuse Schmidt of raising taxes and compares it to "going to McDonald's, ordering a Happy Meal, eating it yourself and have your grandson pay for it." The ad raised eyebrows with the operator of several local McDonald's franchises who then took the issue to the regional office.

The Capitol-Journal reports:

Neal Getzlow, a spokesperson in the company's regional office in Overland Park, said he had not heard the ad yet.

"I would assume that if it's a McDonald's reference and a Happy Meal reference, that's probably not OK," Getzlow said.

But Getzlow stressed that the company is still reviewing the ad and said he would follow up when more information is available.

Patton told the Capitol-Journal he'd continue to run the ad and that the comparison was a "metaphor."

The "Happy Meal" issue is the latest in a bizarre series of events that have dominated Kansas politics in recent weeks. Following legislative inaction on redistricting, a panel of federal judges radically redrew state legislative lines, sending the state into political chaos.

The state's leading anti-gay Democrat, Rep. Jan Pauls, was granted to permission to declare an abandoned church that she owns as her legal residence in order to seek reelection in a favorable district. Pauls is facing off in a Democratic primary with Erich Bishop, the openly gay son of a former Ku Klux Klan member, with the winner set to face pro-gay, pro-abortion rights Republican Dakota Bass.

Last month, a Libertarian congressional candidate in the state changed his name to Thomas Jefferson in order to stress his platform.

And earlier this week, a Republican state legislative candidate in Atchison County was reported to be spending most of his time in Idaho, having moved to Kansas this year. The candidate, John Gotts, also ran as a Democrat for the Washington state legislature in 2009.



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