The Wichita Eagle’s Rhonda Holman, writing for the editorial board in today’s lead editorial (Where do city, county stand on bond?) makes a few points that illustrate the highly partisan nature of this board.
Here’s the first example. She complains about lack of transparency in knowing who is contributing to the campaigns for the Wichita school bond issue, writing “It’s frustrating that USD 259 voters must make a decision on the bond issue without knowing who funded the pro- and anti-campaigns. The three groups behind the campaigns could release their donor lists and amounts on their own prior to Election Day …”
As reported recently by this writer in the post Wichita Eagle Political Contributions: This Year? the Eagle contributed to the pro-bond campaign in the year 2000, and never disclosed that fact to its readers.
If Rhoda Holman is really interested in promoting transparency of campaign funding, her newspaper could start by stating whether it has made a contribution this year. She could reveal her own personal contribution too, or state that she hasn’t contributed.
Then, Ms. Holman complains that a candidate for local office benefits from a campaign mailer mailed on the candidate’s behalf by a third party. She doesn’t like the fact that the organization that sent the mailing won’t have to disclose who paid for it, because it’s an educational effort, not an endorsement.
The reason why it’s an educational effort is because it stops short of saying “vote for ____.” But if the voters get that message anyway, Ms. Holman says “mission accomplished.”
Now if this situation sounds familiar, it should. This is very much the situation with the campaign surrounding the proposed Wichita school bond. In this case, USD 259 (the Wichita school district) undertakes an educational effort that has precisely the same characteristics of the effort that Ms. Holman complains about. But she conveniently overlooks this.
There’s one difference, however. We know exactly who is funding the poorly-disguised campaign on behalf of the Wichita school district: taxpayers.