Archive for Sunday, November 1, 2009

Forum highlights ‘issue ads’ loophole

Politicians urge state to identify special interest groups

November 1, 2009


Last year at this time, voters’ mailboxes, televisions and radios were slammed with political campaign ads as the November election neared.

On Saturday, state officials said this might be the year to ensure that voters have more information about who is backing some of those ads.

The Lawrence chapter of League of Women Voters was host to a forum at the Dole Institute of Politics that focused on a loophole in the state’s campaign finance act that allows special interest groups to run “issue ads” without reporting who is paying for them.

While these ads are careful not to say to vote for one candidate or another, they do tout the politician’s voting records and virtues. Or they can shed a negative light on an opponent.

“If it doesn’t have the magic words … then they don’t have to say who they are,” House minority leader Paul Davis said as he held up an example of an issue ad. “The problem I have: these folks are spending a lot of money and we don’t know who funds them.”

And the supporters behind those ads — who aren’t being named — are having a real influence on who is being elected and how politics is done in the state of Kansas, said Rep. Pat Colloton, a Leawood Republican. The problem is exacerbated in rural areas where $5,000 or $10,000 can swing an election.

“I do think when (candidates) sign on to some of these groups, they don’t realize the fullness of the commitment that they are making,” Colloton said. “These different groups who have spent money to influence elections have several pieces of legislation coming through.”

Since 2005, there has been a proposal to close the loophole in the state’s campaign finance laws. The proposal would require filing a campaign finance report for anyone who spends more than $500 on a mailing or ad that clearly identifies a candidate and is issued 30 days before the primaries or 60 days before the general election.

Reform hasn’t happened, Davis and Colloton said, because of those in the legislature who are being bolstered by special interest groups through issue ads.

But Davis said the proposal might see some movement in the House soon.

“We could see an up or down vote this year,” he said.


63BC 8 years, 3 months ago

The First Amendment is not a loophole.

getreal 8 years, 3 months ago

The First Amendment is not effected by campaign finance reform. No one is trying to be prevented from saying whatever they like. The purpose is that when a card arrives in your mailbox from group ABC claiming to be a citizens group giving kudos to candidate Y for their position on health care, then you should be able to know who paid for the post card. Real citizens or the insurance industry.

This issue is not partisan, both sides compete in this type of political campaigning. A law to make it transparent only benefits the voters. Perhaps that is why real reform has not passed.

staff04 8 years, 3 months ago

"The First Amendment is not effected by campaign finance reform"

Well, it kinda is. The Supremes rulings on Buckley and FEC v Davis determined that spending money to affect political outcomes=constitutionally protected speech (but oddly, upheld individual contribution limits).

I agree that it SHOULD be easier to know who spends the money, but even a decidedly more conservative court than decided Buckley agreed when they decided on FEC v Davis, so I guess people will have to do some legwork before swallowing whole the information they are given...

Scalia and Thomas have also recently argued that any limits on campaign spending are unconstitutional.

Cait McKnelly 8 years, 3 months ago

No one is saying that anyone can't say whatever they want. They're not even saying they have to limit how much they spend. All that is being proposed is that who ever pays for it must admit they paid for it. How is that so threatening? I'm sure they'll come up with all kinds of fun PAC names to try and cover their tracks but it will still make it more easily researchable. Scared much?

63BC 8 years, 3 months ago


Anonymous communication is protected by the First Amendment. See NAACP v. Alabama. If the First Amendment protects NAACP donors from racist intimidation in Alabama [and it does] then it protects donors to other causes as well.

The Federalist Papers were published by Jay, Madison and Hamilton under the pseudonym "Publius." I'm also guessing "GetReal" is a pseudonym. That's your right. Just don't try and take the right on anonymous communication away from others.

Lastly, proper syntax would be "affected" not "effected" in your post.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

Better yet if no one or group claims the ad then do not pay any attention. It is likely slander and without substance.

Why do voters get sucked up in slander such as post cards sending out lies?

For that matter campaign donations should be made available 24/7 instead of every now and then. Too many shady laws at the local,state and national levels.

Paul Davis let's take some big steps and clean it up.

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