Topeka Lobbyists have reported spending more than $789,000 during the ongoing debate over two proposed coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas, most of it on efforts to sway public opinion.
Opponents of the plants initially reported putting far more money into their public relations campaign. But since the year began, supporters have reported six times as much spending, reports filed by individual lobbyists show.
The dueling campaigns are unusual for their intensity and for their focus on trying to build outside pressure on legislators.
Sunflower Electric Power Corp. wants to build the two plants outside Holcomb, in Finney County. But the $3.6 billion project has been blocked since October by Rod Bremby, secretary of health and environment.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed a bill last month to allow the plants and to strip the secretary of some power. Legislators approved a second, similar measure; it reached her desk Monday, but she's expected to reject it as well.
Of the more than $789,000 spent over the past six months, almost 99 percent has been spent either on advertising or on other efforts to build outside pressure. Typically, the biggest expenditure for most lobbyists has been providing free meals, drinks and snacks to legislators.
"I think it's the most efficient and effective way to get our message out to people," said Sunflower spokesman Steve Miller. "That message out to the public ultimately translates into input to the legislators."