Archive for Monday, March 3, 2008

How much did they give?

For political campaign donations in state, Shawnee County is capital

March 3, 2008


Shawnee leads local counties in campaign donations

If political campaigns run on money, local and national candidates do their filling up in Shawnee County, at least among northeast Kansas communities. Enlarge video

Campaign Finance: 2008 contributions in Kansas

Campaign contributions from Kansas residents for the 2008 election

A list of donations by city

A list of donations by city

Reader poll
Have you ever donated money to a candidate for political office?

or See the results without voting


Many Lawrence residents will declare with pride their status as the lone patch of blue in the big red state of Kansas.

And they'll toot their horns when it comes to telling the rest of the state just what they think.

But when it comes to transforming those words into candidate donations, Lawrence isn't quite the lone ranger.

According to a Lawrence Journal-World/6News analysis of election contributions in northeast Kansas since the last congressional election, Lawrence has one of the highest rates of donations per person of any community in the state, $2.04 per person. And it donates more in raw dollars - $163,353 - than most Kansas communities.

But Topeka, among all of the large communities in northeast Kansas, donates more in raw dollars and more per person than any other community, including the wealthy Kansas City suburbs in Johnson County. Residents of the nearly 40 ZIP codes that make up Topeka donated more than $420,564, or about $3.44 per person using 2000 census estimates.

Kansas University political science professor Allan Cigler said whether people make donations is often based simply on whether they're asked.

"A high proportion of the people who donate are activists themselves," Cigler said. "But (presidential candidate Barack) Obama has contributions from 1 million people. The Internet has really helped make that possible."

And while Topeka and Lawrence donate more, Manhattan holds its own in terms of donations per person. Manhattan residents donated about $1.85 per person. In Lawrence, the lion's share of recent presidential donations went to Barack Obama: $23,650, compared with $7,750 to Hillary Clinton, $4,600 for John McCain and $1,000 for Mike Huckabee.

A lot of the donations came in small amounts, from individual donors. Cigler said these types of donations are usually given by people who truly believe in the candidates.

Sending money away

Ernest Pogge, of Lawrence, donated $300 to the Republican National Committee, but also nearly $1,000 to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina, someone who neither represents him nor does he know personally.

"I've been a fan of hers in the past, even before she got involved with running for the Senate," Pogge said. "I'm also a fan of her husband," former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas.

Pogge said he has to feel a connection to a candidate in order to send a donation. Cigler said that philosophy is common.

But sometimes the choice to contribute to a distant candidate is less personal than professional.

Michael Massey and Darrell Pavelka, high-ranking executives at Payless ShoeSource in Topeka, both made $1,500 contributions to the re-election campaign for U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. The company's political action committee also made a $1,000 donation to each of his last two re-election campaigns.

Rangel, a Democrat, is chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means committee, which is considering a proposal to reduce tariffs on imported shoes, something very important to Payless.

Another local candidate who has benefited in money from outside state lines is Jim Ryun. Ryun is trying to retake the seat he lost to Nancy Boyda in 2006.

Cigler said Ryun has received a lot of money from wealthy donors in Texas.

"The parties develop a list of races they think will be competitive and then they pass that around, seeking donations," Cigler said.

Escalating expenses

In recent elections, the amount of money donated and the number of donors has increased dramatically.

"It's far outpacing inflation," Cigler said.

Donald Chambers, a retired Kansas University professor, said he started giving money only recently because he felt the country was on the wrong path. The encouragement of his friends didn't hurt, either.

"I've never been so politically active and eager to donate to a candidate than I was to Nancy Boyda," Chambers said. In November 2006, Boyda claimed the Kansas 2nd District congressional seat that had been held for 10 years by Ryun.

Chambers cited dissatisfaction with the incumbent and a desire to see change nationally for his sudden interest in giving money to a politician.

"Among the people I spend time with, there was an urgency in the last election that everyone felt," Chambers said. "There was a lot of peer pressure. I participated in that."

Cigler said that while the big increases are visible at the presidential level, the same patterns are leading to more expensive races all the way down to the state Legislature.

He predicted that the competitors for the 2nd District congressional seat would each spend $2 million to $3 million this year, and he said there are already state legislative races where candidates are spending $100,000 or more.

Concerns raised

The biggest obstacle facing the American election system, Cigler said, will be finding a way to reduce the amount of influence money has on elections.

"The trick is to make money not talk as decisively as it does in elections now," he said.

No presidential campaign has been financed entirely by public money, Cigler said, and it's unlikely that one will be if the current system remains in place. Candidates who accept federal funding are limited in how much they can spend.

"There's not enough money to run the type of campaign the candidates want," Cigler said.

And even if more were pumped into the federal election financing system, there are two major concerns: whether voters would tolerate what is often viewed as welfare for political candidates, and whether it could stand a Supreme Court challenge.

Cigler thinks no on both counts. In fact, he doubts the current campaign finance laws would stand a challenge with the existing justices.

And that would be OK with Pogge, the Lawrence Republican.

"I'd just as soon the campaign donations were not government controlled, but people were free to contribute all they want to the person they'd like to see in office. That's part of democracy."


compmd 10 years, 2 months ago

"But Topeka, among all of the large communities in northeast Kansas, donates more in raw dollars and more per person than any other community, including the wealthy Kansas City suburbs in Johnson County. "

"Like ohmygod why would I want to give my money to some guy I've never even met before? And what does he do again? He's in Kaungress? Is that like the Sasha Kaun fan club or something? Like seriously, do you know how much my Lexus cost? Seriously. Seriously. I'm not giving that basketball guy my money. But if one is his fans is going to be president, can he make parking better at Town Center Mall? Do you know how far I have to walk to get to the Starbucks? You don't even know. Oh, my friends are texting me, I totally have to go meet up with them now, bye!" -Actual 42 year old female Johnson County resident

Its probably for the best that they do not contribute.

kansas778 10 years, 2 months ago

I show my support by putting conservative bumper stickers on my liberal friends' cars, and hope that they don't notice for a few weeks. I particularly enjoy the pro-gun stickers.

preebo 10 years, 2 months ago

I still contend public financing is the best thing for campaigns. It doesn't eliminate money from politics, but it limits it to a degree. Money has been and will forever be entrenched in politics. Even if both parties agree to public financing rules for the campaign this year there are ways to circumvent the rules. The easiest way is to donate directly to the political party itself or to various "527" groups.

That being said... I have donated to a few candidates, two of whom are no longer running, and the third I have just maxed out on. I used to be really involved in politics when I was younger and enjoyed working on grassroot campaigns. Now I am too busy to volunteer time. I look at my donations as a modest replacement.

CLICK 10 years, 2 months ago

Although it is fascinating to see these numbers how about a detailed look at the contributions that were made and to whom in the last City Commission election. The real political rubber hits the road locally.

Baille 10 years, 2 months ago

Because the quality of life in Lawrence is (or used to be) much better than in Topeka or Kansas City.

And I give money to local and state politicians.The big boys can get by without me. Anyway it is hard to compete on the national level when the corporate lobbyists are willing to "accompany" the politicians as they fly around on the corporations' jets.

Scott Tichenor 10 years, 2 months ago

"Another local candidate who has benefited in money from outside state lines is Jim Ryun. Ryun is trying to retake the seat he lost to Nancy Boyda in 2006.

Cigler said Ryun has received a lot of money from wealthy donors in Texas."

There he is again, Jim Ryun, sticking his hands in the pockets of wealthy Texans. Hmmm, wonder why? Poor Jimmy. Cash rich, ethically and morally bankrupt, and corrupt.

Scott Tichenor 10 years, 2 months ago

Also, keep in mind in regard to this article that between Security Benefit and Payless, they'd easily outrank the salary of anyone in Lawrence would hope to earn. That is, unless you're Lew Perkins.

BigDog 10 years, 2 months ago

Well if Ryun morally and ethically bankrupt so is Governor Sebelius ...... a ton of her money for last election came from out of state. Heck in her first campaign .... David Wittig hosted a fundraiser for her with his Wall Street buddies in New York.

And why is she continuing to raise funds currently when she cannot run again for governor?

ConcernedAmerican 10 years, 2 months ago

Excuse me, but like all major news services, the Lawrence Journal World refuses to acknowledge the existence of Dr. Ron Paul as a viable Republican candidate in any political or related story. Did it not fit neatly on the page layout to include his picture? He is still running and it would be nice if you would use his name and/or picture occasionally so that people do not think he has dropped out of the race. Maybe you could mention his name in tomorrow's paper or better yet Wednesday's. And yes, I donated money to Ron Paul's campaign and it was the best investment I made all year.

BigPrune 10 years, 2 months ago

I saw a bumper sticker the other day and I want one REAL bad. It said:

The Second Coming * Obama in '08

situveux1 10 years, 2 months ago

There's only two ways to get political money to not play such a large role in elections

1) Voters have to get informed

2) Public financing of campaigns.

1 will never happen. People just don't care. #2 might, but it'd be unconstitutional because of free speech violations.

So in other words, get used to big $$$ campaigns and the truth being put to the side for a long time to come.

sfjayhawk 10 years, 2 months ago

Investing in Ron Paul? Ouch! And I thought the inventing Dow was bad!

PeteJayhawk 10 years, 2 months ago

Hey, it's the Paultards! Guess what, Hobbit - media outlets don't generally pay attention to fringe candidates, which is what your precious Dr. Rep. Ron Paul MD Esq. is. A loony fringe candidate with whack-job economic policies who polls in the low single digits.

...And Ron Paul stayed flat.

gogoplata 10 years, 2 months ago

I have donated to Ron Pauls campaign. He is the only man left in the presidential race who is not owned by special interest. Also the only man in the race who provides an escape from big government spending and hope for the economy. He is the only one who understands why the dollar is going down and what to do about it.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.