‘Ron Estes’ letter causes a stir


Yesterday the Wichita Eagle printed a letter from “Ron Estes” titled “Schodorf better.” As you might imagine, the letter promoted Jean Schodorf‘s candidacy for the Republican party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas.

Ordinarily such a letter would not be controversial, except in this case there is a prominent local political figure also named Ron Estes, and he didn’t write the letter. I’m referring to Ron Estes the Sedgwick County Treasurer. He’s also running for the Republican Party nomination for Kansas State Treasurer.

Compounding the confusion — and it’s really more than confusion at this point — is the fact that the Ron Estes who wrote the letter the Eagle published is almost certainly the same Ron Estes who is married to Ellen Estes, who is Schodorf’s campaign manager. There are no other registered voters in Sedgwick County with a name anything near “Ron Estes” other than these two.

I think that the Eagle should have included a notice that the Ron Estes who is promoting Jean Schodorf isn’t the Ron Estes who is county treasurer. It would have avoided a lot of confusion.

There’s also an issue of public policy related to the printing of this letter. Should the Wichita Eagle, when printing candidate endorsement letters, disclose formal connections between the letter writer and the candidate, such as the writer being the spouse of the campaign manager?

In 2008 I was co-manager of Karl Peterjohn’s campaign for the Sedgwick County Commission. Shortly before the election I submitted a letter rebutting criticism of Peterjohn to the Eagle, and it was printed without noting the connection between he and I. I can’t remember if I disclosed the connection to the Eagle when I submitted the letter. But the Eagle — at least the newsroom — was aware of the connection.

The “stir” referred to in the headline of this article comes from the fact that Ron Estes (the Sedgwick County Treasurer) is a conservative, and Jean Schodorf stands out in the field of fourth district congressional candidates in that she is not conservative, at least in the way the other candidates are.

But that’s not all. In a 2010 issue of the Sedgwick County Democratic Party newsletter, under the heading “Thank you to our 2009 contributors!” are the names “Ron and Ellen Estes.” This is the same Ellen Estes who is managing the campaign of a Republican for the U.S. Congress.

Even stranger, Ron Estes — husband of Ellen — is listed as having contributed $100 to Raj Goyle‘s congressional campaign last August.

Not only is Goyle a Democrat, he’s the likely Democratic Party nominee for the same office Jean Schodorf is campaigning for. In fairness, this contribution is dated just about the time Schodorf announced she was thinking about running for Congress.

Then, to add to the strangeness: Ellen Estes, the campaign manager for a Republican candidate for Congress, was registered to vote as a Democrat as of last August. She’s switched to Republican registration since then.

Now I believe a little party-crossing is good once in a while. Last year I volunteered service to the campaign of James Barfield for Wichita City Council. He’s a Democrat, although he is fiscally conservative, and that’s why I supported and volunteered for him.

But the Ron and Ellen Estes family’s close involvement with the Democratic Party, making contributions to both the party and candidates — Goyle and others — makes one wonder.


8 responses to “‘Ron Estes’ letter causes a stir”

  1. Pat

    You backing a Dimocrat makes me wonder. ;)

  2. Helen

    The Eagle most certainly knew which Ron Estes this was and should have made note of it under the writer’s name.
    As far as Ellen Estes goes she should not have been the one to change party registrations(she is most definitely a Democrat and always has been)……Jean Schodorof is the one who needs to change parties. She’s the Democrat in sheep’s clothing.

  3. Wichitator

    Jean has regularly supported raising taxes in Topeka. That is a “great” qualification for becoming a congresscritter.

    Let’s send another tax ‘n spend leftie to help Barrack Hussein, Nancy, and Harry in Washington…..oops, Jean is supposedly a REPUBLICAN. Jean versus Goyle in November could leave 4th district voters with a choice between having a fiscal case of pneumonia or typhoid.

    I’ll pass on that choice.

  4. Larry Rickard

    Bob, good work!

  5. KipSchroeder

    Thank you for the clarification as I was under the impression that our county’s treasurer was in support of Schodorf. In truth, it seemed logical to me – treasurers like to have plenty of money in their accounts and which candidate is most likely to bolster the public treasury?

  6. Sheila

    Jean Schodorf. Nope. Wouldn’t vote for her for dog catcher. Would be too cruel for the dogs! Besides, she’s a bought off by pharma flunkey who wants the government to be the largest employer in the land. And she does NOT support the rights of small business people. Double this for Raj.

  7. Steve Finley

    Bob, this was real eye opener for me, the progressives have figured out that if they run as a Republican in Republican districts they can get elected because we/I never paid attention and just voted for the R after their name. In most cases we didn’t even run anyone against them, they had it made, and it shows in our politics in Topeka. I believe that is changing, in large part to the great job of reporting, from outside the main stream media like yourself. Keep up the good work.

  8. Lyndon

    Since virtually every campaign Letter to the Editor is either written or signed by a person with a vested interest in a campaign, it’s ludicrous of Bob Weeks to expect the Eagle to vet each and every writer. In case he hasn’t noticed, their staff is down to bare bones.

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