Archive for Sunday, September 8, 2002

Lykins unveils billboards attacking Ryun, Westar

September 8, 2002

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— Democrat Dan Lykins continued Friday to attack both Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun and the top executive at Westar Energy Inc. in the 2nd District race.

Lykins, a Topeka attorney, has made the alleged misdeeds of large corporations such as Enron and WorldCom his main campaign issue.

He has accused David Wittig, Westar's chairman, president and chief executive officer, of mismanaging the company, the largest retail supplier of electricity in Kansas.

He also has attacked Ryun for not doing enough to combat fraud and mismanagement.

On Friday, six Lykins billboards went up throughout Topeka, featuring a picture of the Democratic candidate with a milk mustache and the slogan, "Western Resources milked millions from Kansans."

Until this year, Westar operated as Western Resources Inc.

"I've been upset with CEOs who've been dishonest with the public over the past year," Lykins said during a news conference in front of Westar's headquarters.

Lykins said any company that holds a monopoly, as Westar does over residential electric service in much of Kansas, should be required by federal law to have a consumer advocate on its board.

He also chastised Ryun for what he called the congressman's votes against tough criminal penalties for corporate fraud, stronger auditing reforms and closing a loophole allowing corporations to avoid federal taxes.

In addition, Lykins criticized Ryun for taking contributions from Wittig, his wife and other Westar executives.

Westar declined comment, though Wittig has repeatedly defended his management of the company.

Ryun issued a statement disputing Lykins' criticism. Ryun cited his vote for legislation to stiffen anti-fraud penalties, signed by President Bush in July.

"Mr. Lykins missed the fact that Congress dealt with this issue in a bipartisan fashion earlier this summer," Ryun said.

Ryun also noted that Wittig had given money to Democratic candidates, including gubernatorial nominee Kathleen Sebelius.

The congressman is seeking a fourth term in the redrawn 2nd District that includes Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Bourbon, Brown, Cherokee, Coffey, Crawford, Doniphan, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Labette, Leavenworth, Linn, Miami, Neosho, Osage, Pottawatomie, Riley, Shawnee, Wilson and Woodson counties, plus parts of Douglas, Geary and Nemaha counties.

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