Here’s a message that Bryan Derreberry, president of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, sent to Chamber members. Note that this message doesn’t mention the role its political action committee played in the third Sedgwick County Commission district. In that race, the PAC spent some $19,000 of its $48,000 in an effort to elect Goddard mayor Marcey Gregory. Her opponent, longtime taxpayer advocate Karl Peterjohn, is just the type of candidate you’d expect chambers of commerce to support.
But that’s changed. Stephen Moore in the article “Tax Chambers” published in The Wall Street Journal on February 10, 2007 wrote this: “In as many as half the states, state taxpayer organizations, free market think tanks and small business leaders now complain bitterly that, on a wide range of issues, chambers of commerce deploy their financial resources and lobbying clout to expand the taxing, spending and regulatory authorities of government. This behavior, they note, erodes the very pro-growth climate necessary for businesses — at least those not connected at the hip with government — to prosper.”
Mr. Derreberry’s letter mentions “pro-business values.” At one time this meant something approaching free-market values. But now, Ronald Reagan’s prediction is being fulfilled here in Wichita: “What is euphemistically called government-corporate ‘partnership’ is just government coercion, political favoritism, collectivist industrial policy, and old-fashioned federal boondoggles nicely wrapped up in a bright-colored ribbon. It doesn’t work.”
November 18, 2008
Dear Chamber Members:
This election cycle was a resounding success for the candidates supported by the Wichita Area Business Political Action Committee (WABPAC) as we raised more than $48,000 to support pro-business state and local candidates. The Chamber’s political action committee identified and supported 39 state legislative candidates and three Sedgwick County Commissioner candidates winning 36 of the 39 races in which WABPAC was involved (93% elected).
The litmus test for the PAC’s engagement and support was whether a candidate had demonstrated an ability to listen and work with the business community to assure that your company, or organization, had the most competitive environment possible in which to excel. WABPAC’s Board of Trustees wants to thank every Chamber member who reviewed the PAC’s support recommendations and voted accordingly. The reason behind this appreciation is that the Chamber’s collective voice has its greatest impact when business members engage themselves in the election process and elect candidates who embrace pro-business values and understand the challenges you face daily.
A strong, collective pro-business vote is also an outstanding way to support incumbent state legislators and local elected officials who have successfully advanced our region’s top priorities. Bottom line – we need to effectively support the business-attuned elected officials who support us. Our South Central Kansas state legislative delegation has been an adept and courageous partner in advancing our metro area’s top policy and program goals. Your combined voice, in supporting the PAC and re-electing a majority of this delegation, assures the return of legislators to Topeka willing to champion our most important business priorities.