In Kansas, some campaigns for Congress face charges of hypocrisy

A guest editorial by Sue C.

I have been active in the Kansas Tea Party Movement since March of 2009. The basic tenants of it are attractive to me. The emphasis on freedom, liberty, personal responsibility, and love of the Constitution is inspiring. The tea party movement is supposed to be “a new politics” — one of honesty, integrity, and a return to traditional values.

Unfortunately I have been observing a disquieting hypocrisy in the movement of late, especially in campaigns that said they were going to run clean, honest races. Many are acting like the same Washington politicians they have been critical of. Some of these campaigns are staffed with Tea Party members, hoping to support honorable candidates. Many are my friends.

I will outline a few examples of the “hypocrisy” I have observed, and let you decide for yourself if you agree with me or not. I choose to leave off names. My observations are from campaigns in the in the Kansas first district, Kansas third district, and Kansas fourth district (KS-01, KS-03, and KS-04).

  • Campaign staff constantly complain that their competitors are flush with money from “big donors.” Yet when asked if their campaigns would take the same money, if offered to them, I was told, “Oh, yes!”

  • Various campaigns have told me that they are very upset about all the endorsements their competitors are getting. Then in the next sentence I am hearing about their attempts to solicit endorsements from similar groups and individuals. One campaign was even encouraging their volunteers to start up blogs, and give the campaign “endorsements” from them.
  • One campaign staffer was demonizing the political action committee (PAC) donations another campaign was getting, even going so far as to call them “Washington Insiders.” Come to find out, that same campaign had applied for many of the same PAC monies and endorsements! They expressed anger to me that “their guy” didn’t get the nod. These same campaigns are continuing to this day to try and get money from various PACs not yet committed to a candidate.
  • The candidates that are getting PAC money feel that they need to minimize these contributions, which saddens me. The truth is PACs are important in politics: Individuals with similar value systems combine their resources in an effort to help get candidates, who share their same beliefs, elected.
  • “We’re not politicians!” This is a constant refrain in so many of the statewide races, and it makes me laugh every time I hear it! These candidates have been kissing the babies, shaking the hands, working the phones for donations, and marching in the parades along with all the other candidates for over a year now. I have to disagree with this refrain: They are all politicians now.
  • Tea Party “leaders” are signing up every Conservative they can find to run for precinct committeemen and committeewomen positions, and encouraging all their friends to get in local races. This is at the same time they lament all the “career” politicians who worked their way up through the party through this very same method.
  • Some campaigns are saying “We hate lawyers.” The truth is that all these candidates, if elected, will have to hire staffs full of lawyers! The House and Senate bills are written by them. Reality needs to set in: lawyers have a vital place in politics. Folks on the Right will need really good ones to help reverse the harmful laws the current Congress has already passed.
  • Quite a few blogs and emails have been written lately which are attacking candidates, starting gossip, and spreading rumors. This is definitely a sad trend that I am seeing. It is horrible to see people I had previously admired practice this destructive behavior. Personal responsibility and integrity are being sacrificed in attempts to advance a political campaign.

Although I could share many other examples, I will now stop. One thing that I have realized is that if we want the Tea Party Movement to continue to inspire citizens, we will need to pull back from the trend toward hypocrisy that I have just outlined. Otherwise the movement will fail. And so too, might our country.


14 thoughts on “In Kansas, some campaigns for Congress face charges of hypocrisy”

  1. Thank you, Sue, for saying what needed to be said.

    I hope people will listen to your voice.

  2. Wow… and we all thought we’d be above this. It’s so easy for us to become part of the problem, rather than the solution. Perhaps we should be slower to criticize Washington with the problem and look at ourselvelves and local leaders with more scrutiny. Thanks for the thoughtful reminder.

  3. You should always be skeptical of candidates who say they are not politicians. Of course, they are, or they would not be running for office.

    A slight correction: Lawyers are NOT the sole authors of legislation. Members of congress with the gift of good language skills are highly influential, lawyer or not a lawyer.

    About the constitution. Americans love their constitution–WHAT THEY KNOW ABOUT IT!! They preach “original intent” of the Founding Fathers, but no one can be absolutely sure what the Founding Fathers meant in many instances. They would do well to READ and STUDY the Constitution to understand that Congress has the power to do just about anything it wants or decides to do.

    The “tea party” people tend to be purists about politics, so
    they are not likely to be too successful, especially at the national level and probably in most states.

  4. You are so right in many ways and thank you for the reminder this weekend.

    I am sick of the candidates lining up saying “I’m a tea party candidate” when most have no idea what that really means.

    From my perspective, however, we are recruiting new people into precinct and to run for offices because, like you said, that is where the political leaders of tomorrow learn how it works. If we are to change the future we must find active citizens, with good ideas, who are willing to suffer the slings and arrows of a campaign and public life.

    For too many years Citizens have allowed a handful of people with personal or business agendas raise the leaders we have today. Citizens have not held political leaders accountable to what they said they were going to do in their campaigns. We must educate the Citizens to understand that just because a candidate wants to do X or Y does not mean he/she has the power in that position to actually accomplish that promise.

  5. Many people do not understand the political process and how money-oriented it has become. As Sue stated, PAC’s of like-minded citizens are necessary to give candidates they wish to see elected, enough funds to run an effective campaign. In the 3rd District, there is a front runner with a million dollars from special interests, and there are eight other candidates, most of whom are underfunded because they aren’t taking money from special interests.

    As for the claim that a certain candidate is not a politician, I believe that any candidate who has never run for office before can claim not to be a politician, because they have not got a voting record or special interests in their back pocket since they have not done anyone any political favors. Those who are currently in office or have previously been in office will have a voting record, and along with the disclosure of their financial records one should be able to discern if there are political favors that may come to pass if that candidate is elected.

    Lawyers may be a necessary evil to get a bill written in proper legalese, however, in the Obama administration, there are only 5% who have any business acumen, and it is apparent in the bills they are passing that those business people do not have much of a voice. All the current legislation will kill small businesses who cannot afford to pay more in taxes, fees and penalties. It is Main Street America that will suffer from these policies, to the delight of the big businesses that can weather the higher costs and gain more customers when the little guys go under. Most lawyers do not have a clue as to how profit and loss affects businesses, so sending more lawyers in to fix the economy is like sending in the clowns to save the banking system, which is what Obama has already done.

    If the goal of the TEA party movement is to change Washington and the way they do business, it is time to elect some business leaders who know how to get the economy moving and create jobs. Lawyers can be hired.

  6. Hi Bob,

    As an Independent, I find your writings very informative and a good read. However, I am having trouble with this article, and this may be because you are writing about the same folks you are stumping for, but I have never known you to be one to withhold names. It doesn’t matter what party or what political race we are talking about here, if there is hypocrisy among these candidates, you should be reporting who, when, etc. When you decided to be a first class political journalist, you should be doing it with journalistic integrity, not covering up for those for any
    number of reasons. I read your articles to help be an informed voter, and this sadly does not help.

  7. OK nevermind, since this was a guest editorial, I guess I am the one with egg on my face. I apologize and will continue reading. Guess it helps to read who authors the article.

  8. Thanks to everyone for all the thoughtful comments.

    I really appreciate the integrity Anonymous showed above. Owning up to the mistake in thinking this op-ed was penned by Bob. You are a very stand up guy for noticing your mistake, and correcting it. That is the thing I wish we could see in politics.

    People are human. We all make mistakes. Showing grace and integrity in dealing with those mistakes is what we all seek.

    Many of these comments have restored my faith.

  9. Regarding this one:
    “Tea Party “leaders” are signing up every Conservative they can find to run for precinct committeemen and committeewomen positions, and encouraging all their friends to get in local races. This is at the same time they lament all the “career” politicians who worked their way up through the party through this very same method.”

    I don’t understand this criticism at all. I absolutely approve of this method–we can’t change things without true conservatives really getting involved and taking back the political scene. If we want to make things better, how are we going to do it without good people in office? Unfortunately it is the truth that a lot of career politicians have become more interested in political power and money than representing “we the people” and have lost perspective. Politicians like that need to go. Criticizing someone in office while running for office yourself doesn’t make anyone a hypocrite. If the “newbies” didn’t think they could do better, they wouldn’t run!

  10. Ann, I approve the method also. Perhaps I wasn’t clear.

    The point is that many good conservatives come from the PC level.

    My criticism is when people in campaigns try to use the fact that another candidate was involved in the PC level as a “strike against them.” I find that disingenuous. They will label this person “career politician.” Many candidates come from this field. Not all good, not all bad.

    For example, my current state rep, Gene Suellentrop was chosen by the PC level to replace the retiring Jason Watkins. Gene’s voting record has been very conservative. And I think a good choice was made.

    Simply branding someone “bad” because they were involved in the PCs, is just hypocritical politics to me.

    We must watch ALL elected officials FOREVER. Sorry, this is a reality call. We in this movement need to be here and monitor these fellows/gals for the long haul. Otherwise we will find ourselves in this mess we are now in. We must work to kick out the bad ones. We may vote a wrong one in, and we must be sure to correct that error and vote them out again if they don’t put “We the People” first. They must work for us again. Not party, and not themselves.

    Beware of electing people to positions where the post will be the “best job they ever had.” They are most likely the ones to do everything they can to keep it into perpetuity.

  11. There is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with a Political Action Committee, or PAC.
    Read the 1st Amendment.
    Read various court decisions, concerning the 1st Amendment.
    Of course, if the PAC endorsements a candidate receives are from very liberal groups, that DOES matter.
    However, we ALL have the right to join forces to make our voices heard. That is all a PAC does.
    How do you “petition” without an organization?
    What good is a “petition” with only one name on it?

    Republicans who attack all PAC’s are only expressing their own sour grapes. They can not get any PAC support, so they attack PAC support!

  12. “We must watch ALL elected officials FOREVER.”

    Boy is this true. Thankfully some of us are realizing it now. Not enough of us, though.

  13. The local TEA Party should stand firm for three primary principles when we support candidates. (there are dozens of others also) They are Fiscal Responsibility, Personal Responsibility, and Constitutionality. We cannot support any candidate that would raise the sales tax 18% to balance a 10% budgetary (discretionary) increase. We cannot support a candidate that would increase regulation especially if it supplants peoples personal responsibility. (welfare, Obama Care, etc etc). We cannot support a candidate that does not understand that the Constitution of the United States is a set (not living) guideline for the enumerated powers of all branches of the government. And that the only way to change those rules is through a vote of the people to ratify amendments, not through Congressional whim. These petty squables are nothing in the face of these values. Before any TEA Party member agrees to work for a campaign the candidate make sure your candidate understands these are the “lines in the sand” that compromise is unacceptable.
    If Obamacare was voted on and ratified through the just process and made an amendment to the constitution I would support it. But if it had to go through that process it would be an entirely different document that the one that the administration created by pressure and bribes to individual law makers.

  14. Would be great to get the Sarah Palins, Newts and Dick Armeys out of the Tea Party. The republicrats have hijacked it.

    Nothing wrong with cramming conservatives into PCs. If the moderates want to sit on the sidelines then they deserve what they get. Damn shame we still have to sit in the left/right paradigm.

    I like your article Sue but some of the candidates are not politicians, or the typical “career politician”.

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