A postcard that slammed City Commissioner David Schauner's commitment to education and children during the last campaign was almost entirely financed by an area plumber, not by a teachers' organization as the postcard suggested.
"I think this shows it was a sham from the beginning," said Schauner, who went on to narrowly win re-election in the April election. "This has been a poster child for what is wrong with the system."
A recent campaign filing for the group Teachers for a Better Lawrence listed rural Overbrook plumber Mike Capra - a frequent Schauner critic - as the largest contributor to the organization during the March 31 to Dec. 31 time period. Capra - who also is listed as the organization's treasurer - gave $1,000 to the organization. The report also listed $110.29 in miscellaneous contributions, but the names of those donors weren't required to be listed because each donation was less than $50.
Capra on Wednesday was unapologetic.
"It was my money and at least I stepped up to the plate," Capra said. "I felt that was the right decision at the time. You know me, I don't want those people in office."
Capra has been a frequent critic of Schauner and other candidates who ran as part of the Progressive Lawrence Campaign coalition. The postcard stated opinions that Schauner - who is the chief counsel for the Kansas National Education Assn. - had made votes that harmed children and educators. It urged residents to vote for candidates who weren't part of the Progressive Lawrence coalition.
The recent filing listed the organization's largest expense as $1,555.29 for mailing fees to Arena Communications, a Salt Lake City firm that specializes in political mailings for Republican candidates.
Melinda Henderson, coordinator for the Progressive Lawrence Campaign, said she had questions about the validity of the information in the report, but was uncertain whether she would ask the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission to look into the filing.
Carol Williams, executive director of the commission, said her office had not reviewed the filing, but had the ability to audit a political action committee if there was evidence it had not fully reported contributions or expenditures.
The postcard was mailed to an unknown number of voters in the city just days before the April 5 election. It came a day after an anonymous postcard made unfounded allegations that Schauner had been involved in a domestic abuse incident with a former wife. Schauner has vigorously denied the allegations. No one has claimed responsibility for that postcard, but a Lawrence printer confirmed Capra unsuccessfully sought to have postcards with similar language printed at her shop.
The U.S. Postal Service opened an investigation into whether proper mailing fees were paid to mail the postcard. A spokesman with the Postal Service on Wednesday said it wasn't immediately clear whether that investigation was still ongoing or had been resolved.
Schauner said he was no longer actively considering any lawsuits or other actions related to the postcards.
"I have moved on," Schauner said. "The voters have spoken."
Because of a quirk in the state's campaign finance laws, this was the first report that Teachers for a Better Lawrence was required to file since the postcards were mailed. State legislators this session are considering proposals that would require more timely filing of campaign finance reports.
Campaign finance reports released
Campaign finance reports for City Commission candidates and other political action committees involved in the last City Commission election were due this week. Here's a look at what was reported for the March 25 through Dec. 31 reporting period. ¢ Candidate Jim Carpenter raised $1,600 in contributions during the period and spent $5,055.07 in the final days of the campaign. His largest contributor was Dr. Michael Hajdu, who contributed $300. ¢ Candidate Tom Bracciano raised $4,702.61 and spent $4,491.39. His largest contributor during the period was Westwood LLC, a real estate firm that gave $300. ¢ City Commissioner David Schauner raised $4,445 and spent $13,738 in the final days of the campaign. His largest contribution was a $500 donation from the Ontario, Calif.-based International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials. Schauner said he was surprised to receive the out-of-state donation and did not solicit it. He believes some local tradesmen spurred the donation. ¢ City Commissioner Mike Amyx raised $1,246 and spent $9,879.60. Stephen Glass, a Lawrence construction firm owner, was the largest contributor during the period, with a $200 donation. ¢ City Commissioner Sue Hack raised $4,765 and spent $6,705.36. Her largest contributions were $300 donations from the engineering firm The Peridian Group and Westwood LLC. ¢ The political action committee Progressive Lawrence Campaign raised $7,362.75 during the period. The largest contribution was a $1,000 donation from rural Lawrence resident Carolyn Micek.