Topeka Tobias Schlingensiepen, the Democratic candidate for the 2nd Congressional District, on Wednesday accused incumbent U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, of taking money from big business interests and doing their bidding. Jenkins' campaign said Schlingensiepen was "playing politics."
At a news conference, Schlingensiepen, a Topeka pastor, said, "Congresswoman Jenkins has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from banks and insurance companies, and she has repeatedly voted against the 2nd District, and for the interests of these wealthy corporations."
As an example, Schlingensiepen said Jenkins voted against the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010.
Supporters of the law say it gives the government the necessary tools to avoid future bailouts and prevent banks and other financial companies from cheating consumers on mortgages, credit cards and other products.
Many Republicans oppose the law. This summer, Jenkins called it a "regulatory nightmare" that has "slowed the credit lifeline that is vital to the creation and survival of american small businesses."
Schlingensiepen's campaign said Jenkins had received $610,000 from the financial industry since being in Congress since 2009. "At the same time Congresswoman Jenkins was sitting on a committee that was supposed to protect us from another economic disaster, she was taking huge donations from the industry she was charged with regulating," he said.
Bill Roe, who is Jenkins' campaign manager, said of Schlingensiepen's statement, "While the figure he cites as having been contributed from the financial services industry is a fabrication, the vast majority of support Congresswoman Jenkins did receive from the financial industry is from folks working for credit unions and community banks across Eastern Kansas who are also entitled to a voice."
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Jenkins' top five contributors by industry are health professionals, oil and gas, insurance, real estate and accountants.
Schlingensiepen also criticized Jenkins for voting against legislation that supporters said was aimed at restricting bonuses to executives of bailed-out banks, and imposing a surtax on executive bonuses paid with taxpayer money. Roe said Jenkins voted against those measures "for exactly the same reason she opposes bailouts. She believes that the federal government has no business bailing out failing companies or telling any private sector employer how much they can pay and who they can pay it to."
Meanwhile, the Kansas Republican Party circulated a video of Schlingensiepen speaking in July about his education background and degree from Kansas University. "So, I'm now officially branded as an elitist by the opposition. I actually have an education," he says in the video. The clip then abruptly ends.
"Mr. Schlingensiepen owes a heartfelt apology to the 65 percent of Second District Kansans of voting age who do not have a college degree," said Kansas Republican Chairwoman Amanda Adkins.
Schlingensiepen said of Adkins' comments, "I find that typical of the kind of spin and anti-intellectualism that seems to be out there."
Jenkins and Schlingensiepen face-off in the Nov. 6 general election. Libertarian Dennis Hawver of Ozawkie is also running.