Kansas Watchdog, in its article Tracking the PACs — big money flowing into crucial Senate contests, lays out the action of political action committees seeking to influence Kansas voters in the August primary election.
The issue of third-party money involvement has been a concern to many, with Democrats and moderate Republicans railing against “special interest” money, frequently referring to the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity. The claim is that these organizations are attempting to buy an election.
Thanks to Earl Glynn’s reporting in Kansas Watchdog, we see that both sides have PACs that funnel money to, or advocate in favor of, candidates. In the case of moderate Republicans, we see that the Senate Leadership Committee PAC has received contributions from special interest groups, and then funneled that money in favor of moderate Republicans. Senate President Steve Morris controls this PAC.
A large contributor to Morris’ PAC is Kansas National Education Association (KNEA), the teachers union. This is a special interest groups that advocates for the interests of teachers, not students and taxpayers.
Another contributor is Kansas Contractors PAC. Its job is to get the state to spend as much as possible on roads and highways, without regard to whether these are needed or wanted.
Casino money makes its way to the PAC, too. The existing casinos in Kansas would like to see competition prohibited.
There are more special interest groups contributing in favor of moderate candidates, including labor unions, perhaps the most highly specialized interest group of all.
Contrast these special interests with groups like Americans for Prosperity. I have supported AFP for many years because AFP promotes economic freedom, which is good for everyone, not just for certain groups. While the Kansas Chamber is more focused on business, a thriving business climate in Kansas is good for everyone — consumers, workers, taxpayers, and government coffers. We don’t have this now in Kansas. Instead, we have low private sector job creation at the expense of government jobs.
Some are concerned about the influence of PAC spending, and also that of third parties that spend in favor of, or in opposition to, candidates. These are independent expenditures. They’re not supposed to be coordinated with the candidate or campaigns. Some of the most misleading and harshly negative ads come from these groups, instead of from the candidates’ campaigns.
This level of separation allows candidates to disavow or distance themselves from these ads. A solution is to allow larger donations to be made directly to the candidates. In this way, the campaign is responsible for the advertisements and can’t shift blame to someone else.