TOPEKA—Today, a group of over 50 former traditional Republican legislators from across the state released an analysis of recent campaign finance reports that reveal that the majority of money behind negative campaign tactics by the Kansas Chamber PAC is tied to just four donors. An analysis shows more than $1.57 million in disclosed campaign contributions has fueled the onslaught of negative and inaccurate mailings by the Kansas Chamber PAC in recent years in their quest to unseat eight to 10 Republican Senators. Groups, like the Koch’s Americans for Prosperity, are expected to match the Chamber’s investment in this Primary Election, but they are not required to disclose their donors or expenditures.
“It’s unfortunate that a handful of people can cause so much damage to our state in such a short amount of time,” said Rochelle Chronister, former Kansas House Assistant Majority Leader and former Chair of the Kansas Republican Party. “The smear campaigns and outright lies that have been used in this election are shameful. We think Kansans deserve to know the truth about who is behind these efforts before they go to the polls on Tuesday.”
A review of campaign finance reports indicates contributions behind the Kansas Chamber PAC’s efforts are tied to four key donors:
1. Crossland Construction – the company and its affiliated entities gave $38,690 to Chamber PACs in 2011-2012 alone, and gave $164,423 in direct campaign contributions to favored candidates over the past decade.
2. Koch Industries – the company and its affiliated entities gave $181,150 combined to the Chamber PAC and Wichita Metro Chamber PAC in 2011-2012 alone, and gave $641,650 in direct campaign contributions to its favored candidates over the past decade.
3. Murfin Drilling – the company and its affiliated entities gave $90,000 to the Chamber PAC in 2011-2012 alone, and gave $65,420.99 in direct contributions to favored candidates over the past decade.
4. John and Dana Lewis – the couple gave $28,000, the majority of which went to a new start-up PAC called KAN-PAC. The couple also gave $106,596.20 in direct contributions to favored candidates over the past decade.
Of the tracked money flowing in and out of the Kansas Chamber PAC and its favored candidates’ campaign accounts:
• 52% of contributions came from Koch Industries and its subsidiaries
• Another 32% were tied to the three other donors, Crossland, Murfin and Lewis
“There is certainly a lot of money going into postcards and robocalls that are designed to deceive voters about the Obamacare issue, but I think Kansans know better than that,” said Chronister. “President Reagan once said: ‘No arsenal … is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.’ The only way Kansans can combat the fear tactics that are being brought to our state is to make their voices heard at the polls.”
The Kansas Chamber’s decision to focus on political campaigns in recent years has led several local chambers to cancel their memberships with the State Chamber. In a story published just yesterday in The Wichita Eagle, Todd Tangeman, chairman of the Newton Chamber of Commerce said their local chamber withdrew three months ago because the state group should be a chamber of commerce, not a chamber of politics.
Based on media comments by the Kansas Chamber’s own CEO, an estimated 60 percent of local chambers do not belong to the State Chamber. Among the communities that have withdrawn or considered withdrawal from the State Chamber are: Arkansas City, Dodge City, Emporia, Grant County,
Hays, Hutchinson, Greater Kansas City, KCK, Lawrence, Manhattan, Newton, Northeast Johnson County, Olathe, Overland Park, Salina, Shawnee, Topeka and Winfield.
“The Chamber’s political actions over the past few years make it clear they no longer seek to represent Kansas businesses and communities, but instead to represent the interests of three or four people,” said Chronister.