Archive for Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Groups launch opposition to legislation in Kansas requiring disclosure of who funds ‘issue ads’

Supporters say Kansans should know who’s behind messages

February 9, 2011


— A bill to require disclosure of who funds “issue ads” was blasted on Wednesday by some of the most active and powerful political forces in the state.

The Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity-Kansas and National Rifle Association called the proposed legislation an attack on free speech.

“This bill is a blatant violation of the personal privacy rights of all members of our organization and the citizens of the United States of America,” said Jordan Austin, a lobbyist for the NRA.

But supporters of the bill told the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee that the legislation is designed to let Kansas voters know who is behind anonymously funded ads that blanket the state around election time and try to influence the election's outcome.

Carol Jacobson, of Lawrence, who is co-chair for voter services for the League of Women Voters, said the measure would give voters “accurate, reliable information” so that they can judge the validity of the ads and the motivation behind them.

Under current law, independent advocacy groups that are set up as tax-exempt organizations are not required to disclose their donors because they don't advocate expressly for or against a candidate. But these groups have flooded campaigns with ads that are critical of candidates.

Under Senate Bill 31, these groups would be required to file campaign finance reports that include names of contributors who donate more than $1,000.

Sen. Jean Kurtis Schodorf, R-Wichita, said she was the target of “unsettling” ads from an out of state group during her race last summer in the Republican Party primary for the 4th U.S. House district.

She said an Ohio group called Common Sense Issues ran ads critical of her that asked, “What happens when you bag a RINO? They go squish, squish, squish.” A RINO is a term sometimes used by conservative groups that stands for “Republican In Name Only.”

But the NRA, Kansas Chamber and AFP said there is a long tradition of protection of anonymous speech.

Austin, with the NRA, said public disclosure of his organization's donor list would endanger public safety.

“First, 99 percent of our members own firearms, so since the bill requires the disclosure of not only names, addresses but occupations, then criminals will know the addresses of homes where firearms are located and whether or not that person has a job, so they'll know if the residence will be empty during the day,” he said in written testimony to the committee. “It will essentially be a criminal shopping list,” he said.


parrothead8 7 years ago

This doesn't limit free speech. It just tells people who's saying what. I guess some people just don't want to know where their information comes from. Or maybe they don't want OTHER people to know where their misinformation comes from.

skull 7 years ago

They don't care where their misinformation comes from. Some people use FOX News as their sole source for information.

Rich Noever 7 years ago

Some people use MSNBC. So What's your point?

optimist 7 years ago

Does anyone else find the humor in the fact that this is coming from someone who posts anonymously here on LJWorld. I don't begrudge him that as I do the same but we all know the old adage, "those who live in glass houses...”

FloridaSunshine 7 years ago

If you are doing the same thing, I don't get your point for your post... You're reminding yourself that "those who live in glass houses..."? I'm not trying to be a smarty about this...but it struck me as "odd"...just wondering... :~)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

"The Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity-Kansas and National Rifle Association called the proposed legislation an attack on free speech."

And there they are.

kugrad 7 years ago

Political newspaper advertisements must contain a statement identifying who paid for the ad. Why would identifying television ads be any different? This is just big money trying to hide its influence.

Brock Masters 7 years ago

television ads lists who paid for it, just not a list of individual donors.

Steve Bunch 7 years ago

All in favor of accountable free speech say, "Aye."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

I suppose next they'll want to have the right to scream "fire" in a crowded theater, as long as they do so anonymously.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 7 years ago

Bombast is not a verb. Bombasts are PEOple!

BTW, "how" do YOU judge motivation and validity? We can't change the "how" but we can change what information is available. Are you against having information?

It's not like entities supporting political agendas are criminals, right? They shouldn't need to "take the fifth", should they? What's the big deal?

tomatogrower 7 years ago

Why are they afraid to identify themselves, consumer. Why are you against having an informed society?

md 7 years ago

I am very muchan conservetive and I hope this passes

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years ago

This is a good thing. P.T. Barnum, one of the biggest hornswagllers ever, once said that "There is a sucker born every minute and two to take him" Given the political ignorance of some folks, it is only correct and desirable that the source of this political scam, slam, and out and out lying be disclosed. People have the right to know just who is supporting who and who is being bashed by whom.

thebigspoon 7 years ago

Agree, but, from the other side, it's a really good idea to know who espouses political reality, as well as the "scam, slam and outright lying" your reference. See, not all political ads are so prejudicial: some are actually factual and informative. This bill would allow ALL viewpoints access to the parties who disseminated them, thus allowing freedom for the viewer to make up his own mind as to the validity of the ad. I say, "Go for it. There's nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain." The only caveat is that everyone must pay attention to both the message and the messager prior to making up their minds as to what they agree or disagree with. That's the American way of doing business, and this only makes sense.

pinecreek 7 years ago

What are they afraid of? Man up or shut up.

oldvet 7 years ago

"I guess some people just don't want to know where their information comes from."

"Those who whine the loudest are probally the most guilty."

"What are they afraid of? Man up or shut up. "

Sounds like showing your picture ID when you show up to vote...

gudpoynt 7 years ago


But don't you agree that campaign finance should be transparent? Even common sense conservatives should agree to that.

And check out who's digging in their heels against transparency. The KS Chamber of Commerce, NRA, and AFP.... the biggest GOP cheerleaders of them all.

What do you think that says about the Republican party?

booyalab 7 years ago

What on earth does transparency have to do with it? Should we start forcing people to live in glass houses? (and then arrest them if they throw stones?...oh irony of ironies)

Ralph Reed 7 years ago

Lost track of the article's focus again, didn't you.

grimpeur 7 years ago


Words have meaning. Those who won't stand up in public for their convictions have no clue about the meaning of free speech or why it is protected.

Jordan Austin--incredibly frightened (and probably the last person in the world who should own a gun) or just a flat out fibber?

frazzled 7 years ago

"Criminal shopping list"? Please. The NRA spokesman is either truly paranoid or is just making stuff up. Either way, this sort of stuff doesn't contribute to intelligent public discourse.

Peacemaker452 7 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Peacemaker452 7 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

thebigspoon 7 years ago

Whitney, is this type of threat the stuff of which this forum needs to be made? Therre is no doubt as to the implied threat to frazzled here, and I, for one am livid that this intimidation should be allowed. I recemmend it not be flagged so that anyone interested can see what a cowardly scum such as Peacemaker452 can do with a public forum. But, this surely is a violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of the rules.

Peacemaker452 7 years ago

Wow, You can read my mind, how crazy is that?

There was absolutely no threat, implied or otherwise to anyone. I was simply challenging someone who supports the bill in question to do the same thing they want to require me to do. I did the same thing in another post in this thread; no one else seems to be threatened by it.

You want to talk about the forum rules but think it is ok to call me a “cowardly scum”, what a crock.

You sound more like: “I don’t have any real answer to his question so I will flag it for removal and then anonymously slander him.”

At least most of the people that disagree with me on this forum have the guts to publicly debate the issue, not take the kindergarten way out.

sciencegeek 7 years ago

"Intelligent public discourse" has no place in American politics. All you have to do is say something often enough and our lazy electorate will believe it. Which is why millions of dollars have been poured into these independent advocacy groups, who say they're talking about issues but do it by smearing anyone they choose. Where there is no accountability, there is no restraint.

Also--there's a big difference between anonymous posting in a forum and spending millions of dollars to influence an election. For one thing, even the poor can post here; how many of us can spend thousands of dollars to manipulate others for our personal gain? I know I can't.

Chris Scafe 7 years ago

Perhaps that should be revised as "Stupid criminal shopping list." I can't imagine only targeting houses where I know they have guns. Why not phone ahead and tell 'em you're coming, too? Furthermore, any disclosures of donors would disclose the organizations, not the individual members and their addresses. Ever seen an AARP ad that listed the names of all the members at the end?

Peacemaker452 7 years ago

A lot of bold talk from a bunch of anonymous posters. Guess that makes you cowards and hypocrites.

And don’t bother with the “you posted anonymously” replies; I’m not the one demanding the invasion of your privacy.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

If the NRA or COC wants to make anonymous posts on free websites, there's nothing stopping them in this proposed legislation.

But if they're going to collect thousands and even millions of dollars to buy megaphones so that they can shout more loudly than everyone else, we have a right to at least know who's doing the shouting, which is critical in truly knowing why they feel the need to shout.

Peacemaker452 7 years ago

Where did you get this “right”? What about others right to privacy?

Instead of having the government stomp on someone else’s rights, why don’t you get together with some like minded people and “buy megaphones so that they can shout more loudly than everyone else”?

I will pose the same question to you that I posed to gudpoynt:

Please explain to me why you have the right to know my name, address and place of employment just because I gave $2000 to the Friends of Animals to try to stop football players from fighting pit bulls.

Kyle Reed 7 years ago

Knowing their individual names isn't going to change a damn thing about you "truly knowing why they feel the need to shout".

jafs 7 years ago

It might provide some useful information.

Especially when organizations have vague, feel good sounding names, like Americans for Prosperity (really, who's against that?).

If you know that George Soros is funding them, you feel one way. If it's the Koch brothers, another. Etc.

But disclosure is only being pushed because the money is now unlimited, which is the bigger problem.

William Weissbeck 7 years ago

There is absolutely nothing in anyone's constitution that protects you from harassment or ridicule once who decide to interject yourself into the public discourse. Your freedom of speech and freedom of association don't mean you won't have to suffer the consequences of lawful retaliation from others who don't share your views. The last thing we need in this country are anonymous bomb throwers. A store like Target isn't entitled to the luxury of anonymously funding ads that accuse the president of being a non-Christian, without suffering the consequences of its customers boycotting them. For some reason we continued to drink Coors, despite the kooks that used to own it.

jjt 7 years ago

What possible reason could they have for not wanting their names or organization to be revealed? Oh, its coz they do not want their name or organization to be revealed. Not that they have anything to hide they just do not want folk to know who they are.

Here is an idea, all campaigns are limited to a top spend. Different spend for different levels. For example limit a state race spend per candidate to $500,000, that way every one is equal.

Kim Murphree 7 years ago

Make them tell who they are and how much they are paying for the Governor's office, the Secretary of State's office, and the Attorney General's office. Come on..what are you afraid of?

Don Whiteley 7 years ago

The first amendment to the constitution doesn't guarantee the right to anonomously speak out. It is a hallmark of American liberty that we have the right to know who our accusers are. It's a blatant attempt by these groups to hide their lies and distortions behind the sham they want to make of our constitution. If you look at history, you'll find the Nazis used this same tactic. And by the way, I'm a Republican and a gun owner.

Kontum1972 7 years ago folks.... whats next? Tattoos the Nazi's did to the Jews during WW2!

Who are these people...?

Kontum1972 7 years ago

OBTW...that photo of the capital echos the actions of the people in charge.

The Surrealism of it all..... (great photo)

Peacemaker452 7 years ago

Well, here you all are using a media outlet for political advocacy. I have yet to see any of your posts list your real name, address, and employment.

So, are you all hypocrites or are you paranoid? Could be both, I guess.

The funny thing is, if the SPLC had spoken out against this bill instead of the NRA you would all be on board (the high speed train to nowhere?), screaming about how the government is invading your privacy.

Peacemaker452 7 years ago

Wow Ag, you must not have put much time into your post, you normally do a much better job. That was a pretty weak attempt at dismissing my point.

I am simply trying to understand why all of these people feel that anonymous political advocacy in the form of their posts on LJW (a public forum) is OK but anonymous political advocacy on TV or print ads (public forums) is not OK.

You have no more right to the private information about someone who pays for a TV ad than you do for someone who writes a letter to the editor.

Peacemaker452 7 years ago

You are right, I should have said people who post on these message boards.

Mari Aubuchon 7 years ago

Expressing opinions on a forum can hardly be compared to electioneering.

Peacemaker452 7 years ago

Mari (anonymous) replies… Expressing opinions on a forum can hardly be compared to electioneering.

Yes Mari, it can. Who made you the arbitrator of "good speak" and "bad speak"?

jayhawklawrence 7 years ago

The obvious question is whether the NRA is lying.

I support our American tradition of gun ownership by law abiding citizens.

But I do not support unlmited anonymous funding of special interest political ads.

One idea would be to allow anonymous donations below a certain amount in order to protect the privacy of individual citizens.

gudpoynt 7 years ago

I believe the article points out that the proposed legislation would require disclosure of donors who contribute $1000 or more.

Matt Needham 7 years ago

“It will essentially be a criminal shopping list,”

I thought the argument was that if criminals knew people had guns they would be less likely to target them?

These groups have paid for studies that show if people know they are behind political ads they have less chance of having their agenda realized. Apparently they think that the average American is a moron, because I don't think it's all that hard to figure out what the political goals of the COC or NRA are. Unfortunately they may be correct.

Peacemaker452 7 years ago

Matt, What is your point? These groups already have to be listed as paying for the ads so it is obvious that they are behind them.

gudpoynt 7 years ago

Peacemaker425, no they don't in some cases. From the article:

"Under current law, independent advocacy groups that are set up as tax-exempt organizations are not required to disclose their donors because they don't advocate expressly for or against a candidate. But these groups have flooded campaigns with ads that are critical of candidates.

Under Senate Bill 31, these groups would be required to file campaign finance reports that include names of contributors who donate more than $1,000."

Which means, if a dubious "issue ad" attacks a candidate, and a quarter million dollar donation from a single source allowed that ad to out play their opponents' ads 5 to 1, then, under current law, that single source can remain anonymous provided they filtered the money through a tax-exempt independent advocacy group.

How much money for Brownback's campaign came from AFP? How much of AFP's money came from a small set of donors? We don't know because law states that they don't have to disclose it.

Invasion of privacy? Come off it. If you are not trying to significantly affect the outcome of public elections, then I will respect your privacy until we both turn blue. But if you're pumping millions into a campaign in an effort to saturate a media outlet with dubious attack ads, then yes, I want to know who you are.

You call it invasion of privacy. I call it demanding ethical behavior from entities with significant political influence.

Peacemaker452 7 years ago

So we agree that the organization that pays for the ad is always listed.

I believe that your contention is that you have a right to know who the individual donors are.

So please explain to me why you have the right to know my name, address and place of employment just because I gave $2000 to the Friends of Animals to try to stop football players from fighting pit bulls.

Paul R Getto 7 years ago

S.D.: I believe the technical term is 'kleptocracy.'

supertrampofkansas 7 years ago

Americans for Prosperity - Major supporter is Koch Industries.

Koch industries makes its money in the oil business, primarily oil refining and own stakes in pipelines, refineries, fertilizer, forest products, and chemical technology.

What's the secret?

Whoever has the gold makes all of the rules.

gudpoynt 7 years ago

How blatant and weak does fear mongering have to be before people reject it?

optimist 7 years ago

We are all afforded the privilege of posting all of the political comments we like on this website. Should this law extend to each of us? Should we have to provide our names and addresses in order to post on this website? But if I combine my after tax expendable money with other like thinking people and purchase an ad in a newspaper or on television or radio I am suddenly no longer afforded my right to privacy.

The people who donate to these organizations are taxpayers. These taxpayers are donating after tax income (donations are not tax exempt). The organization is tax exempt because it is not a for-profit entity and as already stated the donations they receive have already been taxed. This is keeping with the tradition of not taxing the same money multiple times (excluding the estate tax of course). To tax these organizations would be tantamount to taxing the FREE speech of those who contribute.

It's interesting that those who espouse their fervent belief in free speech and the free exchange of ideas are in support of a bill that would quash the free exchange of ideas…free because of the protection of anonymity.

As for candidates being required to take responsibility of their ads, it is different. They are public officials and the rules for being a candidate are set and apply equally (in theory) to all of us if we were to run for elected office.

Look at what you all have done, making me climb up on to my soapbox...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

There are distinct qualitative and quantitative differences between making anonymous posts on a website like this, where the potential audience numbers in the hundreds, at best, and buying ad time in the highest circulation mass media available.

And if someone posts something here that you think is an outright lie, or at least plays loose with the facts, you have the opportunity to correct or rebut that.

But those spending thousands or even millions of dollars on highly produced media campaigns aren't generally interested in anything like open debate. These groups in particular want to attempt to sway the electorate with often very emotional appeals containing varying levels of mis- and disinformation, if not outright lies.

Knowing who is doing the speaking gives the audience at least some idea of who the vested interests behind it are, and what they have to gain by manipulating the audience with whatever message is provided.

Peacemaker452 7 years ago

Actually, since over 75% of American homes have internet access, according to the Neilson Group (spelling?), the potential audience for this website is just as large as any print or TV outlet.

gudpoynt 7 years ago


There is nothing in the bill that says that donations will be taxed. The whole bill is simply about disclosure. Read about it here:

meggers 7 years ago

I think you're missing the point. There is no assumption of privacy when one makes a donation to a political candidate. That information is already available to the public:

The organizations behind issue ads are essentially trying to circumvent the transparency of the democratic process. The ads in question target specific political issues. If we are privy to information regarding how much money Exxon Mobil, for example, is contributing to a specific candidate, shouldn't we also be privy to how much they are contributing to an issue ad attacking wind energy?

Many of the organizations behind such ads try to dress themselves up as a grass roots effort, when in fact, they are basically conducting a corporate ad buy to protect their bottom line- without being accountable. They can still have their freedom of speech, but we as a society deserve to have the information necessary to make an informed decision when we go to the polls.

Ralph Reed 7 years ago

Take a look at the three organizations opposing the proposed legislation, of which I am in favor BTW. The one that stands out to me is the Americans for Prosperity (AFP). This is an astroturf front groups funded almost entirely by the Koch brothers and for their interests. This article from Source watch provides a lot of information above the fold in just one paragraph. The whole thing makes interesting reading.

The referenced article from The New Yorker ( continues on to state something we all should realize, that the AFP is a grassroots citizens groups brought to you by the Koch family and Koch Industries. The money they provide allows the AFP to flood newspapers, TV, radio and your phones with attack ads supporting Koch's interests. They're so adept at this and so good at starting the astroturf front groups that the Center for Public Integrity says the Koch's are the Standard Oil of our time. The Koch's create slippery organizations with generic-sounding names, and making it difficult to ascertain the extent of their influence in Washington.

In essence, the AFP (to pick one) should be required to say the Koch family is their major underwriter. There's no invasion of privacy there at all. The only thing it will do is bring everything out into the open so people know who's feeding them BS all the time. Yes, I would like to know who bought the last election. However, I don't think I'll have to try hard to figure it out; I'll just need to look and see how much the Koch brothers provided to each of their astroturf front groups and who in Koch Industries wrote the copy.

Also, those of you who know my posts know also that I'm an advocate of verified posting.

Peacemaker452 7 years ago

Ralph, It is interesting that you picked AFP for your example. Could it possibly be because you know that the Koch family is nearly universally vilified on this forum? I don’t claim to know much about them, people’s hatred of them may be justified, but it is telling that you used them as your example.

Let’s look at the other side of this coin. Say I give $2000 to the Save the Cute Fuzzy Kritters League. They use that money, plus money they received from others, to purchase a TV ad that supports a anti-dog fighting bill. How does this activity give you, and millions of others, the right to know my name, address and place of employment?

I truly feel that a lot of the people posting here in support of the bill have good intentions and are tired of people buying influence in government but they are turning a blind eye to the full ramification of this legislation.

Maybe if we forced our state and federal governments back into their limited constitutional bounds there would be less influence to buy. If government didn’t have its fingers in everyone’s pie they couldn’t sell off the pieces.

gudpoynt 7 years ago


check out Bozo's post above regarding qualitative and quantitative differences.

But my position on the public being adequately informed about which individuals are exacting a significant influence on public policy remains unchanged.

Your $2000 is not likely to have a significant influence on wide reaching public policy. I don't care, and neither would most.

But comparing your donation to a multi million dollar contribution by one or two individuals, who both happen to own 42% of a company whose annual revenues are near $100 billion (with a 'B'), shows refusal to consider nontrivial qualitative and quantitative differences.

Were these individuals to make contributions of the same amount to the candidates directly, they would have to disclose their identities. By going through organizations like AFP, they do not. In other words, it's a loophole in campaign finance laws. The proposed legislation aims to close the loophole.

Peacemaker452 7 years ago

Gudpoynt, You say that my $2000 is not likely to have a significant effect, but you still think that you have the right to get my name, home address and place of employment. I still don’t understand where you think that you get the right to demand that information from me.

My $2K will probably not buy me much influence in the circles that sell influence for a living but the bill would still apply to me. In fact, $2K will probably have as much influence in that arena as a post here on LJW, so why don’t we extend the law to cover political speech online?

Ralph Reed 7 years ago

@Peacemaker452. Take a look at the article. I chose AFP because it was named in the article. I know you have a problem with that choice and you assume I chose AFP because the Koch's are "nearly universally vilified" here. It's too bad you think I'm so shallow as to simply preach to a willing crowd. Which one of the other two entities would you rather I had chosen, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce or the NRA?

The KCC works to protect the business community from, "...increased costs such as higher taxes, user fees and revoked tax exemptions." (From their web page) You'll notice that none of these support funding the state. They're also a driving force behind taking all the burden off of businesses and putting it all on the people - you included. They want to establish transparency and uniformity in budgeting for all levels of state government. If they want that, why aren't they speaking out against a council of 12 republicans determining the state budget behind closed doors. Can you tell me why the KCC is opposed to issue ad funding disclosure?

Regarding the NRA, you could start with this article in the Huffington Post about the NRA. One of the things it talks about is how the NRA no longer represents its traditional members (hunters and sportsmen) but instead represents gun manufacturers ( Can you tell me why the NRA is opposed to issue ad funding disclosure?

(Shall I go on?)

Peacemaker452 7 years ago


Feel free to go on, it is not having the intended effect anyway.

I didn’t say you were shallow, but I still think you picked AFP for expedience, not because it represented the full nature of the discussion.

Quoting that Huffington Post article about the NRA didn’t help much either. It is full of omissions and partial truths. Anyway, I don’t agree with the NRA on much anyway. They spent way too many years compromising with the gun grabbers for me to support them fully.

You still didn’t answer my basic question. What gives you the right to demand my name, home address and place of employment just because I decide to give $2000 to a organization that buys a TV ad? Despite what several other posters have tried to argue, it doesn’t matter whether I give just over the limit or $100K, my right to privacy is the same.

tomatogrower 7 years ago

I post without my name on this forum, because I had friends who posted with their names who were threatened by right wing nuts at their jobs and in their homes. However, I do not consider what I post here free speech. With true free speech, I could use my name when I post. These groups are not defending free speech at all. They are just trying to be secretive.

lawslady 7 years ago

Free speech is a VERY important right in this country. But this is NOT a free speech issue. Those who do NOT want to have it known that they are funding a particular candidate or statement should simply not PAY for that candidate or statement. They can SAY what they want anytime. But once they PAY to SAY, it becomes a whole different "animal."

pace 7 years ago

closed meetings, secret ads, corporations are persons. A whole new dark age. Sinister radical right.

pace 7 years ago

Do television and newspapers have the right to refuse to run "anonymous" ad campaigns?

booyalab 7 years ago

I'm against this legislation, but I don't think the voter ID comparison is valid. They're different animals. Voter ID is to prevent fraud, which is not why people want issue ad sources of funding to be disclosed. To be fair, their motivations are pretty consistent. Forcing transparency on those who fund issue ads would hurt Republicans and help Democrats, and so does allowing voter fraud to continue. No hypocrisy there.

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