Tag Archives: Jean Schodorf

Kansas fourth district Congressional campaign finance reports released

Campaign finance reports just released by candidates seeking the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas show one candidate largely self-financing a massive spending program, and allegations of another candidate being dependent on financing by PACs and lobbyists are not supported by facts.

The candidates for this nomination and their campaign websites are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.

Here are the figures reported for the second quarter, the months of April, May, and June, 2010. Anderson’s report was not available as of late Thursday night.

                     Hartman  Pompeo  Rutschman  Schodorf
Contributions         16,062  279,317       80    20,900
Loans to campaign  1,056,600            30,000     7,000
Expenditures         928,385  267,413   24,464    27,712
Cash balance         179,292  444,515    5,616    17,105

Notes:

First, Hartman spent a lot of money, almost 3.5 times as much as the second-largest spender. My analysis of the campaign’s spending shows $739,110 spent on television advertising for the three months of the second quarter.

Nearly all of Hartman’s expenditures were financed by loans made by the candidate to the campaign. Of the $928,385 spent, only $16,062 (1.7 percent) was paid for by contributions.

Rutschman’s campaign reported a $30,000 loan to the campaign from the candidate.

Earlier this year a great deal of attention was paid to an April 20th fundraiser held in Washington DC on behalf of Mike Pompeo (Big D.C. names host Pompeo fundraiser, May 16, 2010 Wichita Eagle). Analysis of his contributions shows that for the second quarter, which covers the time period of this event, Pompeo received $15,000 in contributions from sources the FEC considers to be political action committees (PACs). This is about five percent of his contributions for the quarter.

There are a handful of contributions from individuals in the Washington DC area, totaling about $7,900, according my analysis. These people may or may not be lobbyists.

In an analysis of first quarter contributions from OpenSecrets.org, Pompeo’s contributions from PACs was three percent of his total contributions for that quarter.

These numbers are important because Pompeo’s opponents — both in the Eagle article and in their campaign advertising — raise the issue of a candidate being a “Washington insider” with extensive ties to PACs and lobbyists.

Kansas fourth district Congressional poll released, surprises within

KWCH Television in Wichita and SurveyUSA have released a poll of candidates seeking the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas. The poll, conducted July 11th through 13th, shows Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo maintaining a narrow lead over his chief rival, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman.

The support for both of the top two candidates, however, declined as Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf and Wichita businessman Jim Anderson picked up support.

The poll shows Pompeo at 32 percent, Hartman at 31 percent, Schodorf with 16 percent, and Anderson moving up to garner nine percent of the vote. Latham engineer Paij Rutschman registered one percent in her first appearance in a SurveyUSA poll.

Undecided voters were nine percent.

In analyzing the results, SurveyUSA noted that Schodorf has doubled her support over the past three weeks among women and self-described moderate voters. Further, “Today, Schodorf leads among moderates and among the relatively small number of GOP primary voters who oppose the tea party movement, and has effectively tied the front-runners among seniors, pro-choice voters, and those voters who do not own guns. Any outcome remains possible.”

These results are not surprising, as all along Schodorf, with her moderate positions, has set herself apart from the three male candidates, who are all self-described conservatives.

The truly surprising — I think we can safely say shocking — results were on the Democratic party side of this contest. Raj Goyle, whose campaign is expected to report a campaign fund balance of some $1.2 million when reports are filed later today, has fallen behind Robert Tillman. SurveyUSA reports Tillman polling 40 percent, while Goyle registers 36 percent. 24 percent are undecided.

In the same poll three weeks ago, Goyle led Tillman by 42 percent to 32 percent.

In the Democratic poll, SurveyUSA warns that this is “movement which may or may not be statistically significant.” But the fact that Tillman has been registering such a high percentage of support and is now in the lead must be a huge blow to the Goyle campaign.

These results are trouble for Democrats nationally, too. Goyle is one of 26 candidates showcased by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in its “Red to Blue” initiative.

Goyle started television advertising within the past week. Tillman, on the other hand, recently passed out business cards promoting his campaign, not having even the traditional glossy “palm card” for campaign literature. As of today no website for Tillman can be found, although I have noticed yard signs for his campaign.

Kansas fourth Congressional district poll resultsKansas fourth Congressional district poll results

Update: A Wichita Eagle profile of Tillman is at Tillman running for Congress to support President Obama’s policies. A profile of Goyle is at Goyle pushes bipartisan solutions.

Kansas fourth district poll shows Pompeo lead, Hartman drop

A new poll of candidates seeking the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas shows Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo maintaining a lead over his chief rival, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman.

The poll, produced by Oklahoma City consulting firm Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates on behalf of the Pompeo campaign and conducted July 6th through 8th, shows Pompeo leading Hartman 27 percent to 21 percent.

While other recent polling has shown Pompeo’s support increasing, this poll is the first that shows a decline in Hartman’s support. That decline, according to the Pompeo poll, has taken place since the end of May, when the campaign had a previous survey conducted.

These results are largely compatible with polls conducted by SurveyUSA, an independent agency not connected with any campaigns. These polls showed Pompeo increasing his numbers rapidly after starting in a near-tie with Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf and Kansas Senator Dick Kelsey, who has since withdrawn from the race for family reasons.

Conducted near the end of June, the SurveyUSA poll showed Pompeo and Hartman in a statistical tie, with numbers far above the other candidates. A June poll released by the Schodorf campaign showed Pompeo and Hartman in the lead, but with a larger number of undecided voters than other polls showed.

As with all such polls, we need to remember that polls produced and released by campaigns are just that, and the results would probably not be released by a campaign if the results did not portray the candidate favorably.

Kansas fourth Congressional district poll resultsKansas fourth Congressional district poll results

The candidates for this nomination and their campaign websites are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.

The Hartman clean campaign pledge: Pompeo response

In the contest for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman has run many advertisements making an issue of a clean campaign pledge. He’s signed it, and says that leading rival Mike Pompeo won’t sign it.

I asked Rodger Woods, manager of the Pompeo campaign, why his candidate didn’t sign the pledge. Woods mentioned two reasons.

First, Woods said that the meaning of the word “clean” is subjective. He said that Pompeo has committed to running a truthful campaign, the meaning of which is not subjective, noting that “truth” and “factual” do not appear in the Hartman pledge.

Second, Woods said that the purpose of primary elections is the find the best candidate. The tone of Hartman’s pledge, he said, is that Republicans are best served by not bringing up certain sets of issues.

Woods said that Pompeo has been committed from the start to being truthful, and he is satisfied that the campaign is fulfilling that commitment. A recent Pompeo press release stated “To date, no Mike Pompeo ad has mentioned any opponent. All Pompeo advertising has been built around Mike Pompeo’s positive record and the issues facing voters.” By my observation, this appears to be true.

Woods didn’t say this, but sometimes these clean campaign pledges are used to neutralize or deflect negative information that is about to be revealed. In this case, Hartman promoted his pledge shortly before issues of his controversial Florida residency and Florida voting were made public. (Hartman’s Florida voting was first reported in my story Hartman, candidate for Congress from Kansas, recently voted in Florida.) If a rival candidate were to mention inconvenient facts, it allows the other campaign to make allegations of dirty campaigning.

Facts, even unpleasant, need to be aired during primary election campaigns, I believe. Better for both parties to deal with them then rather than during the general election contest.

While Pompeo did not sign the pledge, that shouldn’t stop Hartman from living up to its standards, if he chooses to. But recently Hartman started running a television advertisement that lives up to all the worst expectations of negative campaigning.

It uses — as is standard practice in negative attack ads — unflattering images of the opponent. After quoting a leftist Kansas blog when it declared “Pompeo has thrown the first ugly punch,” the announcer states “No big surprise. Pompeo worked in Washington DC as a lawyer before moving to Kansas.”

The fact is that Pompeo worked in Washington for three years after graduating from law school. While Hartman’s ad is factually correct, this is the type of attempt at a backhanded compliment that most people would agree violates a plank of Hartman’s clean campaign pledge: “2. Treat Republican opponents with respect by focusing campaign advertisements on our own campaign’s vision for Kansas; this includes not mentioning fellow Republicans negatively in television or radio commercials.”

Hartman’s ad continues with the announcer stating “And the Pompeo record on jobs? He took Kansas jobs to Mexico. That’s right: took Kansas jobs to Mexico.”

Pompeo has stated that when the company he managed, Thayer Aerospace, opened a facility in Mexico, the Mexican plant was a condition of a contract with a customer. The Mexico jobs were new jobs, not jobs previously held by Kansans that were transferred to Mexico.

The ad concludes with “Mike Pompeo: just another Washington insider we can’t trust.” While there is no specific definition of “Washington insider,” at least one of Pompeo’s policy positions and his past action is in direct opposition to what “insiders” want: term limits.

In a speech to the Wichita Pachyderm Club last November, Pompeo told of his efforts, working pro bono, in favor of an effort in Arkansas of that state placing its federal office holders under term limits. I also reported “On term limits, Pompeo said he would like to see a constitutional amendment for term limits, but he would not make a personal pledge to limit his own service.”

Along with most of the other candidates in this contest — including Hartman — Pompeo opposes earmarks, another favorite Washington “insider” perk.

Hartman’s ad, besides going against the spirit and letter of his clean campaign pledge, also starts to drag the fourth district campaign down into the type of negative campaign that voters say they dislike. The other candidates besides Hartman and Pompeo in the race have not raised enough campaign funds to do any television or other widespread advertising.

The candidates and their campaign websites are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.

Schodorf poll shows closer Kansas fourth district contest

Last week’s poll concerning the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas showed Mike Pompeo making big gains to slightly overtake Wink Hartman, with Jean Schodorf and Jim Anderson far behind. A striking feature of that survey was the low number of undecided voters, just eight percent.

Now Schodorf has released a poll with results that, while producing the same ordering of candidates, show a closer race between the top three candidates, with a much larger number of undecided voters. The results, along with the SurveyUSA results from last week, are as follows:

            Schodorf Poll    SurveyUSA
Pompeo          20%              39%
Hartman         19%              37%
Schodorf        14%               9%
Anderson         2%               6%
Not sure        45%               8%

Schodorf’s poll was conducted on June 18 and 19, while the SurveyUSA study announced last week was conducted from June 21 through 23.

SurveyUSA included 609 respondents who SurveyUSA determined to be likely voters in the August primary election. Its 95 percent certainty interval is 4.1 percent. The Schodorf effort, according to the press release, consisted of 400 personal interviews conducted with a 95% level of confidence. No interval was given for that confidence level.

Jayhawk Consulting Services conducted the poll for the Schodorf campaign.

The SurveyUSA poll starts with a Random Digit Dialed (RDD) sample provided by a third party. Respondents are then asked questions to determine if they are likely primary voters. In an email response from candidate Schodorf, she said that her poll included only voters who voted in two of the last three primary elections. This information can be determined from publicly-available voter records.

The press release for the Schodorf campaign poll criticizes the methodology SurveyUSA uses in its polls. According to Jim Yonally, president of the polling firm: “We use well-educated adults, who are experienced callers. We talk to people one on one to get a better feel for what they are thinking. It’s my understanding the media poll uses a recorded voice to ask questions.”

SurveyUSA feels that its automated response polls are accurate and publishes a report card of its results compared to other polling firms. An interview with Jay Leve, SurveyUSA CEO, provides more insight into SurveyUSA and its methods. He would not comment on this specific poll and the criticisms leveled by Schodorf’s pollster.

The Republican Party candidates and their campaign websites are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.

Kansas fourth district Congressional poll shows big change, surprise

Updated and expanded since last night’s story.

A just-released poll shows that the race for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas has changed dramatically since the last poll in February.

The February poll showed Wichita businessman Wink Hartman with a large lead over Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf, and Kansas Senator Dick Kelsey, who has since withdrawn due to family health problems. Wichita businessman Jim Anderson was further behind.

Now Pompeo has edged Hartman slightly, polling 39 percent to Hartman’s 37 percent. These two candidates have separated themselves from the rest of the field and are in a virtual tie, as the margin separating the two is well within the poll’s margin of sampling error of 4.1 percent.

The poll indicates that only eight percent of voters are undecided, a low number compared to other Kansas polls. In a poll conducted at the same time for the Kansas first district Republican nomination, 16 percent are undecided. In a May poll for the Kansas Republican Party nomination for United States Senate, 15 percent were undecided.

This low number of undecided voters is not good news for the Anderson and Schodorf campaigns, as both have a lot of ground to make up in a short time to catch the two leaders. The primary election is August 3rd, with advance ballots starting to be mailed on July 14th. The deadline for registering to vote or changing party affiliation is July 19th.

Some interesting results from the pool include these observations:

For voters self-identified as “conservative,” Pompeo leads Hartman 41 percent to 40 percent. For “liberal” voters it was Pompeo over Hartman by 33 percent to 20 percent. Schodorf, who is set off from the other candidates by her moderate voting record and positions, could garner only 18 percent of these self-identified liberal voters. 20 percent were undecided.

Among women, Schodorf increases her vote from nine percent to 11 percent. In this category, Hartman leads Pompeo 37 percent to 35 percent.

For voters who have a favorable opinion of the tea party movement, Pompeo outpolled Hartman 42 percent to 39 percent. Anderson, who has described himself as the tea party candidate, trailed with seven percent.

Pompeo edged Hartman among pro-life voters and gun owners by three and four percentage points respectively.

A question this poll can’t answer is whether Pompeo’s upward trajectory is likely to continue. The Hartman campaign started advertising on television early, which surely contributed to his lead in the February poll. By the time of that poll, it was estimated by one source that he had spent over $200,000 on television advertising.

The Pompeo campaign has not lacked for money. Campaign finance reports for March 31 showed that it had raised $606,274 and had $432,611 on hand. (At that time the Hartman campaign had spent $307,871.) If the Pompeo campaign’s strategy was to conserve funds and wait until closer to the election to start television advertising, the strategy appears to be working.

It has been thought that the best chance for a Schodorf victory was for her to take advantage of the two characteristics that separate her from the other candidates — her gender and her moderate or liberal positions. (The recent entry of Paij Rutschman in the race provides another alternative for voters wanting to vote for a female candidate, but Rutschman polled only one percent.)

But with Schodorf barely increasing her total among woman voters, and trailing both Hartman and Pompeo among self-described liberal voters, it appears that this strategy is not working.

A surprise in this poll is on the Democratic side. In this contest Raj Goyle has been presumed to be the sure victor, as his campaign has raised, by now, surely over one million dollars and is receiving national attention. His opponent, Robert Tillman (no website can be found), is running for office for the first time. He hadn’t filed any campaign finance reports as of the end of March, presumably because he had raised little or no money.

But the poll shows Goyle with only 42 percent of the vote, and Tillman with 32 percent. 26 percent are undecided. This is an unexpectedly close result.

The candidates for the Republican Party nomination (and their campaign websites) are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.

Kansas fourth Congressional district poll results

Kansas fourth district Congressional candidates answer individual questions

Last week’s forum of candidates for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas featured a set of questions tailored individually for each of the four candidates who participated.

The candidates for this nomination (and their campaign websites) are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf. Election filing records maintained by the Kansas Secretary of State indicate that Paij Rutschman of Latham has filed for the Republican Party nomination, but little is known about this candidate at this time, and Rutschman did not appear at this event.

Hartman answered his question first. The question and his response are covered in my article Hartman state tax issue still a little bit murky.

Anderson’s question asked when was the last time he voted in any primary election. Anderson answered “2008, I believe.” He added that “the primary is the most is the most important election” and that he would defeat Raj Goyle in the general election. He asked the audience to examine the candidates, their history, what they’ve done, and how they’ve conducted themselves.

He used the opportunity to recommend voters choose a candidate who will follow the Constitution, “the one in my pocket that they’re not using right now in Washington.”

Schodorf was asked about the recently-passed tough Arizona immigration law. Would you support such a law? Schodorf said that she understood why Arizona enacted the law, saying Arizona was forced to do it due to the federal government’s inaction. She said the federal government should have been enforcing a strong border. She said we need to help Mexico keep the border safe so that guns, drugs, people, and money do not come here. She told the audience she has voted for tough laws against the trafficking of illegal immigrants.

She added that she supports using the National Guard to secure the border.

Pompeo’s question concerned a Wichita Eagle article covering a Washington fundraiser for him that was attended by lobbyists. Would lobbyist contributions affect your voting, and how would we know?

Pompeo noted that he had four times as many Kansas contributors as the other candidates combined, a source of pride for him. While he said he has accepted contributions from political action committees, other candidates also sought such contributions, but were not successful in obtaining them. He cited his endorsement by the Kansans for Life PAC, which was sought by the other pro-life candidates for the nomination. He also mentioned his endorsement by the Club for Growth, which was sought by one of the other candidates, he said.

In rebuttal, Anderson said that yes, PAC money will affect decisions and votes, that PACs want favors from legislators.

Analysis

In checking the candidates’ responses, I was not able to verify that Anderson voted in the August 2008 primary election in Sedgwick County. In an email response to my question, Anderson wrote that he “truly wasn’t sure if I had voted in the 2008 Primary as I was deeply involved in opening my business, PostNet.” He’s right: listening to the recording of the forum, he was hesitant in his answer.

Regarding contributions from political action committees, I would recommend that voters consider the purpose or goal of each PAC. If the goal of the PAC is to increase taxes and spending — particularly when for the exclusive benefit of its members — voters should take that into account if they are interested in fiscally conservative candidates. Other PACs and organizations like the Club for Growth seek growth, prosperity, and economic freedom for everyone equally.

Kansas fourth district Congressional candidate forum

Last night the candidates for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas squared off in a ninety-minute forum at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Wichita.

The candidates for this nomination (and their campaign websites) are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf. Election filing records maintained by the Kansas Secretary of State indicate that Paij Rutschman of Latham has filed for the Republican Party nomination, but little is known about this candidate at this time, and Rutschman did not appear at this event.

Former television new anchor Anita Cochran was the moderator. The event was broadcast live on radio station KQAM 1410, “The Big Talker.”

The forum started with opening statements by the candidates.

Mike Pompeo, June 16, 2010Mike Pompeo

Pompeo said, as he often does, that “Washington DC has fundamentally lost its way. There are elected officials there no longer connected to Kansas in the way we all know they need to be.” He traced his biography: Growing up in Southern California, attending West Point and serving in the Army, then attending Harvard Law School and working three years as a lawyer. He came to Wichita to start an aerospace company that he said grew to one of the five largest aircraft subcontracting companies. Today he runs Sentry International, a company that services the oilfield industry.

He told the audience that “the candidates sometimes sound like they’re saying about the same thing. But listen closely — we could not be more different.”

Wink Hartman, June 16, 2010Wink Hartman

Hartman that he is the “only Kansan in the race.” He said he was born and raised in Wichita, graduating from Southeast High School and working his way through Wichita State University. He said he had a “multitude of jobs” including painting houses, selling trashcans door-to-door, and repossessing cars.

Hartman told the audience “I am a businessman. I am not a politician. I’m not trying to build a political resume.” He said he has learned to balance a budget, meet a payroll, and how to work with increasing government regulation and taxes. He said he has created thousands of jobs in this community for over four decades. He promoted his business success as a key qualification.

Jim Anderson, June 16, 2010Jim Anderson

In his opening remarks Anderson said “I am an American.” He said he has been an airline pilot for 25 years, bringing both commercial and corporate aviation experience and business management experience to this race. “I am the leader out in front to reform government with a Fair Tax, a balanced budget amendment, term limits — the only one fighting for term limits — and a pledge to this community, to this district, for no earmarks.”

He told the inaudible that the Constitution begins with “We the people,” not “We the government.” The government has no right to confiscate our money, dictate morals, and decide on health care. He said he is the tea party candidate.

Jean Schodorf, June 16, 2010Jean Schodorf

Schodorf told the audience that she and her opponents are all Republicans, working to get the nomination. She held up as sign reading “JOBS!” and said that the fourth district has the highest unemployment rate in the state. People are hurting in both urban and rural districts, she said, and she wants to go to Congress to end the recession. She want to work with state and local government to bring back economic development and recovery.

She said she is a native of Independence, although she was born on a military base in North Carolina. She said she wants to bring the tanker contract back, and wants to bring back jobs from Mexico. Her experience in the Kansas Senate and background in education will help her “hit the ground running,” she said.

The first question directed at all candidates had to do with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Has it changed your view on drilling in deep waters in the Gulf? The need for energy independence was stressed by all candidates except Schodorf. She recommended that all oil companies voluntarily stop drilling until safety plans are reviewed and approved.

The second question asked about policies that should be changed or implemented to increase the creation of private sector jobs.

Answering first, Hartman said he has experience in this area. He said the current income tax structure limits the ability of business to grow and that the Fair Tax should be discussed. He added that regulation places a burden on business, and that regulation must be reduced.

Anderson said that the Fair Tax is the “bottom line,” adding that government controls us through the tax code.

Schodorf said she is the only candidate who has voted on taxes, listing several business tax cuts she had voted for in the Kansas Senate over the years. She supports keeping the Bush tax cuts in place. She said that our representative in Congress and the state need to work together to create incentives for business to locate in Kansas, saying that we will be competing with other states for jobs.

Pompeo pointed to his manufacturing experience and how government works to discourage jobs. Government bureaucrats, he said, are not interested in seeing that we are competitive. He criticized the statewide sales tax increase in Kansas. He said that the U.S. has the second-highest corporate income tax rate in the world, which discourages job creation.

Another question: Are there any parts of the recently-passed health care law that you agree with and want to see implemented?

Answering first, Anderson said we should repeal the law because it is unconstitutional, adding that nowhere does the Constitution give government the right to mandate the purchase of health care. Nothing in the plan benefits citizens, he said, adding that tort reform along with the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines is needed. “Let the free market drive the product, and you’ll get a good product at a low price.”

Schodorf said that she liked the portion of the law that prohibits companies to refuse insurance to those with per-existing conditions. The ability of people to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26 would keep a pool of healthy people in the insurance pool.

Pompeo said we don’t know what’s in the bill, and that it was a “travesty” the people voted for the bill without knowing. He said it was “radically undemocratic” and rejected the will of the people. Competition always drives improvement in quality and price, and this factor needs to be introduced into the health insurance marketplace.

Hartman said the bill will limit access to quality health care, pointing to poor quality health care in Canada. He recommended tort reform and personal ownership of health insurance policies.

On a foreign policy question relating to the recent incident involving a Turkish ship, candidates agreed that Israel is a friend of America and deserves our support. Pompeo said that Obama’s policies “make our enemies closer” and pushes our friends away, adding that we need to make sure people know America will protect its national security interests. Hartman said Israel is a stabilizing force and has the right, as does America, to defend itself against all enemies. Anderson said the American President should send a message that this behavior will not be tolerated, and that Israel is our friend.

A question asked about the honesty of politicians.

Answering first, Pompeo said that not all politicians are dishonest, but that too many go to Washington and become corrupted by the power. He said that voters should realize that politicians will behave in office like they run their campaigns, so we should ask candidates to tell the truth. If candidates say things that do not match the facts, voters should “call them on it at every turn.”

Hartman said he can’t answer that question, as he’s not a politician. He said that when you elect the same people, you should not expect different results. Politicians drink the Kool-aid when they “go across the river,” saying that they no longer represent you,instead representing personal and special interest groups that have supported them.

Anderson said we need to look closely at who we are electing, noting that some candidates have accepted money from political action committees and from lobbyists. He echoed Hartman in saying that we shouldn’t send “the same people” back to Washington.

Schodorf said she has worked for the people of Kansas in her job in the Kansas Senate. She added that voters should look at what candidates believe in, and who they work for.

During a break for radio commercials, moderator Cochran stood behind each candidate to give their supporters a chance to show their support. Pompeo supporters cheered the loudest.

After the break, candidates answered a question directed to them individually. These questions will be covered in another story.

A question asked about whether the recession has changed the candidates’ personal or public spending on credit. Answering first, Anderson said the federal government must balance its budget and that its spending habits must change, starting with an overhaul of the tax system.

Schodorf said that personally she has been saving money and paying off bills. She said the federal government needs a balanced budget amendment to force it to balance its budget as the state of Kansas must. She supports a bi-partisan commission to find ways to cut spending and cut the deficit.

Pompeo said the problems we have today have been caused in large part by bad government decision-making, using Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as examples. He said that regulators are telling banks that they want them to make loans, but the regulators behave differently.

Hartman said we need to do something about our $13 trillion in debt. More spending will not create prosperity and solve problems, he said, citing the failure of the stimulus program and “cash for clunkers.” He added that we need to shrink the size of government and take a look at the Fair Tax. He said that the amount of federal government debt held by China is a problem.

The candidates each made a closing statement of up to one minute. Going first, Schodorf said she is running for Congress to bring back jobs and economic development. She said she believes in helping senior citizens, the disabled, and our kids. She said the Republican Party needs to be a big tent party, and a party of solutions, not the party of “no.” She said we need to bring sense to government.

Anderson referred to Ronald Reagan’s contention that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction, and that it must be fought for by each generation. Our country is in trouble, he told the audience, and he said that he is the common sense conservative candidate.

Hartman said that can show something that no one else can: his record of success in the community in creating good-paying jobs.

Pompeo said that we live in the greatest nation in history, but we are on the brink of losing that. He said it is immoral and wrong for Washington to spend the money of the next generation. The federal government has just a few tasks, such as keeping us safe and protecting every human life. Then, he said government should get out of the way.

Notes

The event was well-attended, with almost 400 tickets collected. Many more may have gained entrance without a ticket. Candidates had tables in the lobby with literature.

While Cochran did a good job keeping the event on schedule, not all in the audience were pleased with her demeanor. There was one gaffe in particular that was offensive: Schodorf was answering a question and remarked as her time ran out that she forgot something she meant to say. Cochran interjected “Sometimes Alzheimer’s kicks in right at the right time,” adding that she was “not kidding, that Alzheimer’s is horrible.”

During the intermission for radio commercials moderator Cochran let the crowd indicate its support for each candidate by cheering. Pompeo seemed to be the crowd favorite by a large margin. This was not a scientific poll, but an indication of the sentiment of those in the audience.

During the forum, Schodorf twice held up a sign reading “JOBS!” saying she’d just been to a rally. That rally was sponsored by union members, and its purpose was protesting the outsourcing of jobs by Wichita manufacturers (See Aviation workers rally to protest outsourcing.) During this forum Schodorf mentioned returning jobs from Mexico.

The issue of job creation is important to two of the candidates who promote their business experience as qualifications for this position. Two remarks should be noted: First, business and government are two very different fields. The businessman is motivated by profit; indeed, profit is the measure of success. But government has no ability to profit, and thereby no such yardstick.

Second, to a business, jobs are are a cost that is to be minimized. There are not many businessmen who create jobs just for the sake of creating jobs. Instead, they hire workers because there is work to be done, and if that work is done, profit will be (hopefully) generated. This is not to minimize the accomplishments of Hartman and Pompeo, as both have been successful in business and are to be commended for that. But claims that job creation is the reason for a business’s existence must be questioned.

While Anderson has not had the same type of business management and entrepreneurial experience as Hartman and Pompeo, the responsibility of being the captain of a jet airliner with several hundred passengers on board is not a trivial experience.

Additional coverage from State of the State KS is at Anderson, Hartman, Pompeo and Schodorf Answer Tough Questions in Debate at Wichita’s Orpheum Theatre.

Schodorf – Goyle race might feature reversed roles

If Jean Schodorf captures the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas, the general election contest against likely Democratic Party nominee Raj Goyle might feature a reversal of commonly-held roles.

That’s because in this year’s session of the Kansas Legislature, Schodorf, as a Kansas Senator, voted for the budget bill that increased spending and required an increase in taxes to support the spending. In this case, the main source of increased taxation is the one cent per dollar increase in the statewide sales tax that will go into effect on July 1.

At about the same time, as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, Goyle voted against both bills. Only one other House Democrat voted against the budget bill.

The usual case, of course, is that Democrats favor increased taxing and spending, while Republicans are generally opposed.

During this year’s legislative session school spending advocates said that schools have “cut to the bone,” and that without increased school spending, Kansas schoolchildren would suffer. Similar claims were made for people dependent on social services from the state. Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, agreed. He proposed the spending and sales tax increase (and a cigarette tax increase) in his state of the state address in January, and aggressively promoted both during the session.

So it would be interesting to see how Goyle would explain his votes to the usual Democrat constituencies such as, say, the Kansas National Education Association (or KNEA), the teachers union.

More evidence of the reversal of the usual positions of candidates from the two parties comes from analysis of votes during the recently-completed legislative session. In the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year, Schodorf scored 18%, resulting in a tie for 27th place among the 40 Kansas Senators. In the House, Goyle’s votes earned a score much more supportive of principles of economic freedom. He scored 67%, ranking 47th in a field of 125 members of the Kansas House.

On scorecards produced by Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity, things again are upside-down. Schodorf’s rating was 25%, while Goyle scored a rating of 60%, which is more in align with AFP’s promotion of limited government and free markets.

Schodorf’s votes are not out of line with her history. Goyle’s votes this year are more conservative than his past votes, leading us to wonder if there was a bit of election-year window-dressing going on as Goyle prepared for his campaign for Congress.

Kansas fourth district Congressional candidates to debate

On Wednesday June 16th the candidates for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas will debate.

Former television news anchor Anita Cochran will be the moderator.

Interest in this election and the candidates appears to be increasing as the calendar advances towards the election. By the time of this debate, the August 3rd primary election is just seven weeks away, with election offices starting to mail advance ballots on July 14th. The last day to register to vote or to change party affiliation for the primary election is July 19th.

The event will be held at the Orpheum Theatre, 200 N. Broadway in Wichita. Doors open at 6:00 pm with the debate starting at 7:00 pm. Tickets are available at a number of locations; see www.sedgwickcountygop.com for locations. Sponsors of this event include the Sedgwick County Republican Party, the Big Talker 1480 KQAM radio, and the Wichita Pachyderm Club.

The candidates for this nomination (and their campaign websites) are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf. Election filing records maintained by the Kansas Secretary of State indicate that Paij Rutschman of Latham has filed for the Republican Party nomination, but little is known about this candidate at this time, and Rutschman will not be appearing at this event.

In Kansas fourth district, debates reveal differences

In this article, Wendy Aylworth of Wichita takes a look at candidates for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas and their responses to questions at several candidate forums. In particular, she examines the candidates and their attitudes towards free trade.

The well-known candidates for this nomination (and their campaign websites) are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf. Election filing records maintained by the Kansas Secretary of State indicate that Paij Rutschman of Latham has filed for the Republican Party nomination, but little is known about this candidate at this time, and no website is available.

Aylworth supports the campaign of candidate Mike Pompeo.

Part one: Flip-flops, free markets, and NAFTA

Are you getting a good chuckle yet when listening to the forums featuring the candidates vying for the Republican nomination for the 4th Congressional District seat? If you haven’t yet, you’ll find a few here for your enjoyment.

We’ll look at the changes in the candidates over the various forums and appearances.

The positions of three of the candidates appear similar on the surface, but their explanations and tone of voice often reveal whether the candidate has a real grasp of the topic. Three of the four candidates claim to be in favor of limiting the scope of government and shrinking it down to only the powers granted it in the Constitution, yet the answers given by these same candidates reveal a conflicting ideology.

Have there been flip-flops by the candidates? Yes.

Continue reading In Kansas fourth district, debates reveal differences

Pompeo story needs correction, analysis

A Wichita Eagle news story concerning a candidate for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas has sparked controversy for its reporting of some factual issues, and also for its coverage of the politics surrounding the campaign.

The story (Big D.C. names host Pompeo fundraiser, May 16 Wichita Eagle) reports on a fundraising event held in Washington DC for Mike Pompeo. The event was held at the home of Robert “Bud” McFarlane, and was attended by, according to the Eagle article, “former federal officials, lobbyists, consultants and political action committees.”

Readers with long memories may have trouble with the Eagle story when it reports “He [McFarlane] was convicted of lying to Congress about the administration’s plan to sell arms to Iran and divert proceeds to the Contras, a guerrilla movement then waging war against the leftist government in Nicaragua.” As a guest on KPTS public affairs television program “Kansas Week” on Friday, Dion Lefler, the author of the Eagle story, repeated the assertion that McFarlane was convicted of lying to Congress.

The actual facts are that McFarlane entered a guilty plea. He was not convicted, as reported by a contemporaneous New York Times story: “Robert C. McFarlane, President Reagan’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty today to four misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress and agreed to serve as a prosecution witness in the criminal investigation of the Iran-contra affair.” (“McFarlane admits withholding data on aid to contras,” March 12, 1988 New York Times.)

There’s a distinction between being convicted of a crime and pleading guilty. While some may view it as a distinction without a difference, it was certainly important at the time, and is part of the historical record.

The Eagle story also reports on McFarlane’s current involvement in Sudan, specifically with the people of the Darfur region of that country. The United States has called the actions of the Sudanese government against these people genocide. In the Eagle story, congressional candidate and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf noted that the Kansas legislature voted to divest the state of any business interests with Sudan. McFarlane, however, disputes the contention that he is working for the government of Sudan. Based on her interview with McFarlane, State of the State KS’s Rebecca Zepick reported: “McFarlane said he was disappointed the story was virtually wrong in all elements about his testimony on the arms sale deal and on his work overseas. McFarlane says he works to coach the tribal leaders of Darfur, often the victims of ethnic cleansing, as they prepare to negotiate a peace agreement with the central government.” (Former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane Speaks Out On Support for Mike Pompeo, State of the State KS, May 17.)

The politics of the article deserve discussion, such as the role of lobbyists at the fundraising event, and in the campaign in general. Pompeo’s opponents have criticized him for accepting campaign contributions from lobbyists. Part of the problem we have is understanding and even appreciating the role of lobbyists both at the federal and the state government levels. I spent quite a bit of time in Topeka this spring observing the Kansas legislature and surrounding activity, and I came to understand the role of lobbyists more clearly. While it’s true that the popular perception of lobbying — described by one writer as “sinister influence peddling by pressure groups with reckless disregard for the general welfare” — contains an element of truth and is an important area of concern, lobbyists do play useful roles.

For one, lobbyists play a useful role in gathering and transmitting information to their clients and others. While this is also the job of the news media, many clients require more detailed and specific information and analysis of what’s happening in the legislature or Congress as it regards their interests.

Second, many lobbyists are simply trying to protect their clients from harm. They are not necessarily seeking anything from government except to not be harmed.

I also observed times where legislators rely upon lobbyists for technical abilities such as analyzing the effect of a change to legislation on the insurance industry, for example.

While advocates of limited government such as myself wish for a day when government is so inconsequential that lobbying is neither necessary nor productive, that day is not here. In fact, with the actions and policies of the Obama Administration — Bush’s too, for that matter — government is becoming larger and more intrusive, meaning that lobbyists are going to play a role.

To simply pretend that lobbying does not exist is naïve and does not take into account the realities of the current political environment. Further, while one of Pompeo’s opponents, Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf, has apparently not received contributions from lobbyists or political action committees in her campaign for the nomination for Congress, she has accepted many such contributions for her Kansas senate campaigns.

Examination of Schodorf’s campaign finance reports from the last time she ran for office (her campaign for the Kansas Senate in 2008) shows that she received campaign contributions from many political action committees. Some of these PACs are controlled by groups such as the Kansas National Education Association (the teachers union) that also extensively lobby the Kansas legislature for increased spending — which Schodorf accommodates, as she did in the current legislative session. She voted for a budget that increased state spending partly for schools, and voted for the bill that raised the state’s sales tax to pay for the spending.

A further issue that deserves discussion is the source of campaign contributions. The story itself — certainly the quotes from Pompeo’s opponents — paints a picture of Pompeo raising large sums of money from Washington sources. In a phone conservation, Pompeo said that this characterization is not accurate, that over 80% of the money he’s raised is from Kansas. While the other Republican candidates have not raised much money from outside Kansas, one candidate has: Democrat Raj Goyle, the likely opponent for the Republican nominee in the November general election.

For Goyle, the proportion of in-state versus out-of-state contributions is roughly reversed from Pompeo’s. A quick analysis performed by myself on Goyle’s campaign contributions through March 31 showed 33% of the dollars coming from donors in Kansas. The remaining donations came from donors outside of Kansas. This analysis is confirmed by analysis available at the website OpenSecrets.org, which showed Goyle’s campaign contributions from Kansas at 32% of his total.

The same analysis from OpenSecrets.org showed that for the Pompeo campaign, 82% of contributed funds came from donors within Kansas, with 18% from outside of Kansas.

Interestingly, the OpenSecrets.org analysis showed that the leading metropolitan area that has contributed to Goyle is the Washington DC area, with donors there having contributed about $149,000 to his campaign. The Wichita metro area was just behind at $148,000.

For the Pompeo campaign, donors in the Wichita metro area contributed $434,000. The next metropolitan area was Chicago at $16,500, and contributions from the Washington metro area were just below $10,000. For Pompeo, this figure does not include contributions from the fund-raising event that is the subject of the Wichita Eagle article.

While Pompeo is not running against Goyle at this time, the Wichita Eagle has shown a tendency to paint Goyle in the best way possible for someone running for Congress in a fairly conservative district. My post Raj Goyle is not moderate or conservative, even for a Democrat highlighted the Eagle’s characterization of Goyle as a blue dog Democrat, meaning a fiscally conservative Democrat. Such a description would be helpful to Goyle in his campaign against the eventual Republican nominee.

As my story reported, “fiscally conservative” does not describe Goyle’s past voting record in the Kansas House of Representatives, although this year Goyle voted in a more conservative way. In my new edition of the Kansas Economic Freedom Index, Goyle scores quite well, better than 30 Republican members of the House. Voters will have to judge for themselves whether this change in voting represents a true change in Goyle’s governing philosophy or is merely election-year posturing.

In the end, the criticism leveled at Pompeo by his election opponents as a Washington insider may simply be a reaction to his success at fundraising not only in Washington but elsewhere. Eagle reporter Lefler, again speaking on the most recent Kansas Week, said “The real irony in all of this, is that four five years ago, having an event like this would have been an absolute plus for a candidate. This was the kind of thing that that showed you have the gravitas to actually go to Washington and actually get some things done.”

Schodorf to address Pachyderms

This Friday Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf will address members and guests of the Wichita Pachyderm club. Schodorf is also a candidate for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas, along with Jim Anderson, Mike Pompeo, and Wink Hartman. Raj Goyle and Robert Tillman are candidates for the Democratic Party nomination.

All are welcome to attend Pachyderm club meetings. The program costs $10, which includes a delicious buffet lunch including salad, soup, two main dishes, and ice tea and coffee. The meeting starts at noon, although it’s recommended to arrive fifteen minutes early to get your lunch before the program starts.

The Wichita Petroleum Club is on the ninth floor of the Bank of America Building at 100 N. Broadway (north side of Douglas between Topeka and Broadway) in Wichita, Kansas (click for a map and directions). Park in the garage just across Broadway and use the sky walk to enter the Bank of America building. Bring your parking garage ticket to be stamped and your parking fee will be only $1.00. There is usually some metered and free street parking nearby.

Wichita Collegiate Young Republicans to host debate

The following press release announces what should be an interesting event.

The Wichita Collegiate Upper School Young Republicans will be hosting the Republican candidates for the Kansas 4th Congressional District on Monday, April 26th. The debate will be held in Galichia Auditorium at the Upper School located at 1221 N. Webb Road; just south of 13th Street. The debate will start at 7:00 pm and run through 8:30 pm, with doors opening at 6:00 pm.

The debate will be moderated by WCS Young Republican leaders Abby Keleman and Carly Nelson. Questions have been generated from students and edited by the club’s faculty sponsor, Rodney Wren. Candidates will be given two minutes for opening statements, will be allowed one and a half minutes to answer questions, if a candidate is named in an answer they will have thirty seconds for rebuttal, and candidates will be given one minute for a closing statement.

Questions should be directed to either Miss Keleman at wcsyoungrepublicans@gmail.com or Mr. Wren at rwren@wcsks.com.

‘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.

At Kansas Days, the fourth district Congressional campaign is on

At the annual Kansas Days festival in Topeka, the Kansas fourth district Republican candidates all hosted hospitality suites, looking to boost their chances with Kansas Republican voters. On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal ran an online piece titled Kansas GOP Could Be Its Own Worst Enemy, giving a run-down of the current political scene in Kansas.

Of particular interest to Kansas fourth district voters, the piece said this:

The Democrats’ best hope for retaining a seat in the Kansas delegation may be a two-term state legislator named Raj Goyle, who is running in the fourth district encompassing Wichita. On his Web site and in campaign literature, Mr. Goyle colors his first name blue and his last name red, emphasizes his concerns about the struggles facing businesses and avoids any mention of “Democrat.”

“I’m not a party label kind of guy,” said Mr. Goyle, a high-tech entrepreneur, Harvard-educated lawyer and Wichita native.

But his greatest advantage may be that he has no fewer than five Republicans campaigning for the chance to run against him — with more expected to enter the race by August.

(I looked at Goyle’s campaign site, and the article is correct: As far as I can tell, none of the material generated by the Goyle campaign mentions that he is a Democrat. You have to read a Wichita Eagle news story that the site reprints in order to learn his party affiliation.)

So on Saturday I individually asked the candidates about the article. Will a vigorously-contested Republican primary in August be an advantage for Goyle — assuming he is the Democratic nominee — in the November general election? Will Republicans spend all their money and energy in the primary?

In his hospitality suite Dick Kelsey said no, that the Republicans are committed to running a positive race. He said he’s running a positive campaign. Kelsey said that the Republicans will be broke after the primary, but that the party will be able to quickly raise the funds needed to run a campaign against Goyle, the likely Democratic nominee.

An operative from the Anderson campaign was spending time in the Kelsey hospitality room, and added that with a primary contest, the Republicans will be exercised. Kelsey added that Republicans will have made contacts and friendships.

At the Mike Pompeo hospitality suite, the candidate said we have a competitive primary, and that the winner will come out ready to go in the general election. He added that when Republicans start talking about Goyle and his liberal agenda, they’ll do fine in the election. Pompeo said he’s raised a lot of money, close to as much as Goyle, and the ability to raise funds is important.

In the Hartman suite, candidate Wink Hartman said it’s good for citizens to have an opportunity to select from five candidates, adding that it’s important to go through the political process to arrive at the best candidate. He mentioned the large amount of money that Goyle has raised from outside of Kansas, and that he believes that he is the only Republican candidate with the ability to raise the money necessary to win in the general election.

In the afternoon in the Jim Anderson hospitality suite, the candidate said the primary will energize and organize the Republicans. Besides the candidates, citizens are getting organized and are starting to pay attention to the issues. This will add to the strength of the candidate who wins the Republican primary.

Jean Schodorf said that a contested primary causes people to become more aware of the Republican candidates, because the Democratic candidate, not having an opponent to campaign against, doesn’t have a forum. She said that in the first debate, the Republican candidates stated publicly that they will all support the winner of the primary election in the general election. She thought that was very important, as she believes it is important to have a Republican follow Todd Tiahrt. Having five candidates makes it a healthy debate, she added.

Another Republican Congressional candidate forum

This Friday, January 22nd, the Sumner County Republican Party sponsors a forum for candidates for the Republican Party nomination for the United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas.

Due to a previous speaking engagement, candidate Wink Hartman will not appear at this event.

Doors open at 6:00 pm with the debate starting at 7:00 pm.
The location is Belle Plaine High School, 820 North Merchant Street in Belle Plain. Here’s a Google map of the location. Google says it’s 25 miles and a 33 minute drive from downtown Wichita.

Kansas funds have large, unneeded balances

Yesterday the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy released research that shows that the state of Kansas has large unencumbered balances, representing excess funds needlessly collected from Kansans in the form of taxes and fees.

The numbers are staggering, with over 1,600 state funds holding between $2 billion and $3 billion in excess balances, depending on the method used to determine reasonable balances.

The report, titled “Analysis of State Unencumbered Fund Balances in Kansas” was prepared by the accounting firm Anderson, Reichert & Anderson. The author, Steven J. Anderson, has extensive experience in government and its accounting. The report may be read by clicking on Analysis of State Unencumbered Fund Balances in Kansas.

Investigative journalist Paul Soutar’s reporting on this report may be read at Buried Treasure.

I spoke with Dave Trabert, president of the Flint Hills Center a few days ago about this research. He said that many state agencies have collected more fees than they have spent. These funds are considered “unencumbered.” That is, there is no claim on them. This doesn’t mean, however, that the state or agency can transfer or spend these funds in any way they want.

Trabert said that often money is held in funds that, by law, can’t be transferred into other funds and used, perhaps resulting in lower taxes for Kansans. But, he said “the same result can be accomplished by simply reducing the amount going into the fund and forcing the agency to spend down their surplus.”

The effect of this would be a reduction in taxes and fees that Kansans must pay. The amount of money involved is huge.

The Flint Hills Center used two methods to calculate how much money could have been returned to taxpayers since fiscal year 2003, a period of six years. One method estimated about $2 billion in excess funds that could have been returned. The other estimated about $3 billion. Both methods leave sufficient balances in these funds for the state to conduct its business.

In context, for a state that has a population of 2.8 million, these balances that could have been returned over this period amount to $1,071 per person, using the $3 billion figures. Or, for every household in Kansas, $2,890.

Where is this money, I asked Trabert. It’s in bank accounts, he said. Who is aware of this? Trabert said that some legislators have been stunned to learn of these balances.

There are people who know this money exists, Trabert said. But not everyone believes. In a KAKE television news story, Kansas senator Jean Schodorf, who is considering a run for the U.S. Congress, said she didn’t believe these numbers.

In the same report an official from Wichita State University gave the example of a student housing fund. Fees collected for that fund, she said, can be used only for student housing.

But if funds are accumulating in this fund and not being spent, this is strong evidence that too much money is being collected. The fees are too high.

What are the implications of this report, I asked Trabert. “As shocking as it is, it’s really good news. … We can get away from this either/or situation: Either we raise taxes, or we have to give up a lot of services. … We just need to figure out how to make better use of what we have. We can have lower taxes and good services.”

This analysis doesn’t include school districts, counties, or municipalities, except for a handful of cities that participate in a state-administered investment fund.

Kansas lawmakers and the governor, as well as the press, primarily focus on the state’s general fund. There’s a reason for that, as it is the single largest fund, and the fund over which the legislature and governor have the most immediate control. In contrast, the “All funds” budget — that’s where the funds that are the subject of this research are held — is often treated as something over which we have no control.

The general fund is about half the state’s total spending. This analysis by the Flint Hills Center shows that we need to pay more attention to the other half, and to the balances that are accumulating there.

Schodorf introduced bill to reduce notice of some bond sales

Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf, who is considering a run for the United States Congress, doesn’t have much regard for citizens’ right to know of impending sales of municipal bonds.

A bill, Senate bill 154 from the 2007 session and introduced by Schodorf, is cast in the usual legislative language, and therefore is difficult to understand. So I will quote from the Supplemental Note for Senate Bill 154 as follows:

“SB 154, as amended, would amend a provision of the general bond law governing the sale of municipal bonds by providing that a city would be allowed to issue up to $2.0 million in certain municipal bond sales before a published notice of sale would be required. … Under current law, a public notice of sale is required for municipal bond sales greater than $100,000.”

The effect of this proposed legislation introduced by Schodorf would be to let more bonds be sold without publication of notice. The bill died in the Kansas House of Representatives and did not become law.

The rationale given for allowing bonds to be sold without publication is that publication increases the cost of the bonds.

Publication also increases the ability of citizens to know what’s going on, too. I think that’s more important.

In the end, this legislation, if it had become law, might not have made much of a difference. The quaint practice of publishing legal notices in newspapers is likely to come to an end someday, replaced by email and websites.

On Facebook, the City of Wichita’s Government Relations Director Dale Goter left this comment to this article:

Bob, allow me to offer some corrections to your report. The bill, as earlier noted, was requested by the City of Wichita. As enacted, it provides for public notice. The purpose of the legislation was to LOWER special assessment costs, saving property owners money by creating a more competitve environment for certain bond issues. It was ultimately passed with overwhelming support in both houses. The final version also had the blessing of the Kansas Press Association. It is a great example of how cities work with the legislature to SAVE money for taxpayers and property owners.

Jean Schodorf’s education credentials

Kansas state senator Jean Schodorf, a Republican from northwest Wichita, is testing the waters in the race for the Republican nomination for Kansas’ fourth congressional district.

It appears that she’ll use her public education experience and advocacy as a selling point. As reported in today’s Wichita Eagle:

She has served in the Senate since 2001 and is chairwoman of the Education Committee, where she has developed a reputation for fighting in favor of schools and school funding.

At her Monday news conference, Schodorf was introduced by former state Board of Education member Carol Rupe, who served with her on the Wichita school board and was one of several current and former USD 259 officials in attendance.

When judging Schodorf’s record on education, we should keep in mind that when considering educational freedom, Kansas is one of the very worst states in the nation. Kansas has no charter schools to speak of. Any hope of a voucher or tax credit program is a faint and distant goal. This is all well and good, according to Schodorf, and she has a fair degree of influence over education in Kansas stemming from her role as the chair of the senate education committee.

Instead, the Kansas public school spending lobby seems to pretty much control the legislature and the governor’s chair. Yes, Kansas had to scale back on school spending this year. But schools fared much better than did other state agencies and spending lobbies. It’s a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans that allow this to happen. Schodof is one of these moderate Republicans, with several Democrats in the Senate possessing a more taxpayer-friendly voting record.

If Schodorf starts to talk about the many years of rising Kansas test scores, I hope she calls for an independent audit of those scores. This is needed so that Kansans can see for themselves whether these scores are a valid and reliable measure of student achievement. This is important because the results on the federal NAEP scores don’t support the rapid rise shown on the Kansas tests. See Are Kansas school test scores believable? for background.

Also, the public school monopoly and its supporters in Kansas — Schodorf being in this group — continue to dismiss a way to save Kansas a lot of money and improve educational freedom and results at the same time. As shown in my post School choice would save, not cost, Kansas, we can save money by implementing school choice programs.

Let’s ask presumptive candidate Schodorf some of these questions, and then judge the validity of her purported care and concern for the education of Kansas schoolchildren.