Although they are defending a Cedar Crest reception attended by Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, probably even Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and her staff are rethinking the governor's practice of donating such events to be purchased by the highest bidder at political fundraisers.
The reception, held in April 2007, was purchased by Tiller at an auction to raise money for the Greater Kansas City Women's Political Caucus. Because Tiller is one of the few doctors in the country who performs late-term abortions, his presence at Cedar Crest has garnered considerable attention from anti-abortion groups and at least a couple of Kansas legislators who say they may sponsor legislation to restrict how the governor's residence can be used.
This isn't a matter that warrants that kind of legislative oversight, but it does suggest the need to discuss how to prevent future events that might be embarrassing to the governor or the state.
Cedar Crest is the governor's home and she should be entitled to invite about anyone she wants to to that home. A governor entertaining political supporters at Cedar Crest certainly is nothing new. The problem with donating an event at Cedar Crest as a fundraising giveaway is that there is no way of controlling who will purchase the right to be entertained at the state-owned governor's mansion.
Certainly there are other individuals or groups who many people would find even more objectionable than Tiller. The Ku Klux Klan has been cited as an extreme example. It's unlikely the KKK would be involved in an auction that benefited a group supported by any Kansas governor, but it nonetheless illustrates the problems with auctioning an open-ended invitation to the governor's mansion.
A reception purchased at a fundraising auction is, at best, a back-door invitation to the governor's mansion. Although certain groups are vocally unhappy about this particular guest, the broader point at issue is the wisdom of opening the doors of Cedar Crest to the highest bidder regardless of what political, personal or even criminal baggage those bidders might bring with them.
It's a topic that is worthy of discussion by the Friends of Cedar Crest, the nonprofit group that sets the guidelines for the mansion's use, as well as the governor and her staff.