Friday, January 13, 2006
Gaming the System, Kansas Style
A page from the Jan. 10, 2006 Receipts and Expenditures Report filed with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission by right-wing Kansas school board member Ken Willard.
A campaign finance report filed Jan. 10 by Kansas School Board member Ken Willard shows that right-wing board members continue to game Kansas election laws which limit contributions from state and federal PACs to $500 in each primary and general election cycle.
Willard's report, on file with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission (view it, here) shows that he accepted four contributions of $500 each -- all of them made on the same day, Dec. 29, 2005, and all from state and federal political action committees that share a single treasurer and post office box.
The Free Academic Inquiry and Research (FAIR) state and federal PACs, and the Kansas Republican Victory Fund (KRVF) state and federal PACs all report P.O. Box 626 in Topeka as their address, and Merilee K. Martin as treasurer. All are closely associated with the ultra-right Kansas Republican Assembly.
Campaign finance reports filed Jan. 10 by right-wing board members Connie Morris and John Bacon fail to list donations from the FAIR state and federal PACs, or the KRVF state and federal PACs. However, the two state PACs do list donations of $500 to each candidate -- all made on Dec. 29 -- in their Jan. 10 filings.
Although Red State Rabble does not yet have access to the FAIR and KRVF federal PAC reports, it is reasonable to assume that they made $500 contributions to Morris and Bacon on Dec. 29, as well. The FAIR and KRVF state reports can be viewed here.
Since the contributions were made close to the end of the reporting period it is likely those contributions were received by Morris and Bacon after Jan. 1 and will be reported at the next filing.
The report filed by the KRVF State PAC lists a contribution of $3,500 from the KRVF Federal PAC on April 19, 2005. It also lists a $1,500 donation from the FAIR Federal PAC on -- wait for it -- Dec. 29, 2005. These were by far and a way the two largest contributions reported by the KRVF State PAC in 2005.
So here's how the right-wing games Kansas campaign finance laws: Last month, just before the end of the reporting period, on Dec. 29, Merilee Martin sat down at her desk and took four checkbooks out of the drawer where she keeps them -- one for each of the state and federal PACs.
Next, she wrote a check to Willard, Bacon, and Morris for $500 dollars from each of the checkbooks. That's a total of four checks --$2,000 to each candidate. And then, just to make sure that the checks she'd just written from the KRVF State PAC didn't bounce, she wrote a check transferring funds from the FAIR Federal PAC checkbook to cover the balance.
In fact, the actions of Ms. Martin, the four state and federal PACs, and the right-wing school board candidates make a mockery of Kansas campaign finance laws limiting contributions to state school board candidates to $500 in each primary and general election cycle from political action committees.
In reality, the four PACs are not separate entities. They function as a slush fund designed to skirt Kansas campaign finance limits.
The failure to enforce campaign finance limits on right-wing school board candidates such as Willard, Bacon, and Morris renders Kansas ethics laws essentially meaningless. What is to stop a wealthy individual from setting up 1,000 PACs, all with the same treasurer and post office box. All with bank accounts and checkbooks, and writing $500 checks to the candidate of their choice?
Willard, Bacon, and Morris -- all supporters of the intelligent design inspired revisions to the Kansas science standards claim that teaching evolution in public schools contributes strongly to the erosion of ethical and moral standards in this country.
Their actions, however, speak louder than their words ever could. In flouting the laws regulating campaign contributions -- part of a pattern going back at least to the 2000 election -- they have demonstrated once again their utter disdain for Kansas law, the ethical standards demanded of elected officials, and the moral values shared by the people of Kansas.
Are these the sort of people we want guiding the education of young people in our state?