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Archive for Monday, June 16, 2014

Republican lawmaker says dispute with Koch lobbyists led to lack of endorsement from Kansas Chamber of Commerce

June 16, 2014, 1:01 p.m. Updated June 16, 2014, 3:26 p.m.

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A Republican state legislator says he didn’t get a re-election endorsement from the Kansas Chamber of Commerce because lobbyists for Koch Industries got mad at him after he suggested the company publicly testify for a bill it was pushing behind the scenes that would have repealed the state’s renewable energy standards.

But Kansas Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Office Mike O’Neal said the allegation made by state Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe, is “without merit.” O’Neal, however, didn’t say why Schwab was not endorsed.

The dispute centers over an attempt in 2013 to repeal the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS, which requires electric utilities to generate 20 percent of capacity from renewable sources, such as wind energy.

Schwab recently sent an email to his supporters to explain why he thought he didn’t get the Kansas Chamber’s endorsement in the Aug. 5 Republican Party primary.

In the email, Schwab said that after a committee hearing on the RPS repeal bill, Koch lobbyist Jonathan Small told Schwab that Koch Industries wanted passage of the bill.

“I recommended that Koch testify then. Jon said if they did that, people would not like them. My response was that people don’t like them anyway, so just be honest,” Schwab said.

Schwab said he made the suggestion because many Kansas businesses had earlier testified before a legislative committee asking that the renewable energy law be left alone. Schwab said he didn’t want to vote for repeal and appear anti-business.

A few weeks later at a reception for the American Legislative Exchange Council, Schwab said he was confronted by two other lobbyists for Koch: Mike Morgan and Mark Nichols, according to the email.

“Mark took his business card, shoved it into my ribs on the left side and said from now on, if I wanted to talk to Jon Small, I needed to call him first for permission. Mike then aggressively let me know how horrible I was for not voting for the RPS bill,” Schwab said. Actually Schwab said he did vote for the bill in committee.

Schwab said, “I informed him it is hard to vote for a bill where Kansas businesses don’t want it passed, and only think tanks do. I needed the Kansas business community to say they really wanted this. He then said that I would vote to keep hookers working in Kansas if it meant no businesses ask for it. To which I said, ‘Are you equating yourself to hookers?’ Needless to say, Mike’s tone spiraled,” Schwab said.

Schwab said the incident is the reason he did not get the Kansas Chamber’s endorsement in his re-election campaign. Schwab has drawn an opponent, J.H. Wilson, in the primary. The chamber has not made an endorsement in the race, but Schwab said chamber officials have been talking to his opponent. Schwab said the chamber has not told him why he didn’t get the endorsement.

Koch Industries, based in Wichita and the second-largest privately held company in the United States, is a member of the Kansas Chamber, and Morgan serves on the chamber’s board.

An emailed statement from the chamber’s leader, O’Neal, said, “Rep. Schwab received a campaign contribution from Chamber PAC as recently as December and he is aware of the reasons he will not receive additional funds in this current cycle. We are sorry and disappointed that he feels he should receive more funds than he has already received. Given the support he received in December, his reference to an admittedly non-Chamber related matter that supposedly occurred last year is without merit.”

Repeated calls to Koch lobbyists Small, Morgan and Nichols, and Schwab were not returned.

Wilson, who is running against Schwab in the Republican Party primary, said he visited with Christie Kriegshauser, vice president of political affairs for the chamber, about getting the group’s endorsement in the race. But, he said, Kriegshauser later informed him that the chamber’s PAC wouldn’t make an endorsement in the race.

Wilson said he understood that the chamber might not want to back a longshot candidate. “Schwab would be the betting favorite. Hopefully, I can change that,” he said.

Wilson says that the RPS should be abolished.

“That needs to be left up to the private sector,” he said. Another attempt to repeal the RPS failed during the 2014 legislative session. Schwab voted against repeal.

The Kansas Chamber, Americans For Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council say the renewable energy standard interferes with the free market and gives wind energy an unfair advantage. AFP, an anti-tax small government group founded by Koch Industries’ leaders, David and Charles Koch, blanketed the state with TV ads linking the renewable energy standards to former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and President Barack Obama. Supporters of the renewable standards say the standards have boosted the state economy through the development of wind energy.

Comments

Phillip Chappuie 6 months, 1 week ago

Repeated calls to Koch lobbyists Small, Morgan and Nichols were not returned.

I wonder why? The cat is out of the bag for anyone who cares to look. The AFP and ALEC and all of those lobbyist are nothing but strong arm bullies and dishonest hucksters of the extreme right propaganda. If I was a candidate I would be embarrassed to accept a dime from any of those jerks. My fear is that a lot of good people will suffer from their lies and deceit and the overall public good will be damaged. The working people will suffer. The environment will suffer. Education will suffer. But profits will be up. O'Neal and Brownback and those other boys will all their cut in the end And you and I get stuck with underfunded services, neglected highways, dirty air, dirty water, no water and all for the good of The Man.

Lane Signal 6 months, 1 week ago

It is nice to see a few cracks in the facade. The Koch brothers highjacking of the Republican party in Kansas is perhaps not as clean and polished as we thought. If Mr. Schwab has the backbone to stand up for himself and point out what sneaky, mean spirited weasels the Koch lobbyists are, maybe other Republicans who are not so happy about the take-over of their party will speak up. Perhaps there is a little hope that wealth does not buy absolute power. Perhaps this is evidence that no matter how locked up the wealth industrial complex thinks they have things, there is a limit to what they can get away with. I'd like to think so anyway.

Ken Lassman 6 months, 1 week ago

Thank you, Scott, for writing this important series.The Chamber seems pretty clearly swayed by the big money at the expense of the average Kansas business, which is why it is campaigning against anyone who does not knuckle under to those who give the Chamber.

The 2014 Annual Economic Impacts of Kansas Wind Energy reports that the growing wind industry provides a $26 million dollar shot in the arm to the Kansas economy annually, meaning to landowners and businesses. It also shows how an intact RPS is an important economic development tool used to attract other businesses to the state. Finally, it states that for every 150MW of installed wind energy, 489 jobs are created in construction, operating and related supports from other businesses and over the 20 year life of that 150MW, landowner lease payments will total overr $15 million and donations and community contributions will exceed $11 million. Check it out for yourself here: http://www.polsinelli.com/~/media/Articles%20by%20Attorneys/Anderson_Gibson_Hagedorn_Feb_2014

Thanks to each of the House of Representativess who voted against repealing these business-friendly RPSs, despite the monied lobbyists bringing it up to a vote 7 times during the session. Not only would these lobbyists and their cronies not accept the representative votes as final during the session, now they are trying to run those who voted that way out of office and replace them with their own. Kansans should take note and keep their voice intact when it comes to the Republican primaries, and your articles are making it clear why they need to.

Richard Heckler 6 months, 1 week ago

The Chamber of Commerce works for ALEC the secret organization that is part of the Koch Political Empire.

Club for Growth is part of the Koch Political Empire.

Kansas Club for Growth is part of the Koch Political Empire.

These Club for Growth factions were organized through a Sam Brownback staff person.

This political empire does not have a lot of respect for republicans,democrats or women.

The Koch Political Empire is the fire in the belly for taking over government services because they would come with trillions in tax dollar support = Privatization is not really private industry.

6 months, 1 week ago

The more interference "We The People" can create with the free market ideology the better. We should all have some type of home wind energy systems installed...and make some money using it...that's the REAL American way.

William Weissbeck 6 months, 1 week ago

I'm a cynic. Until these "moderates" abandon their "party" and team with the Democrats, it's means nothing.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 months, 1 week ago

The typical Kansan is not paying attention. They are voting Republican because their family has always voted Republican. The Koch, et al, are counting on this. People like Schwab need to tell them the truth. Too bad he didn't record the conversation. These people are scary. They must be stopped, even if that means you must vote for a Democrat; I'm worried it may be too late to take back your party.

Schwab and the other Republicans who voted against this repeal did so, because the wind energy business has been good for their districts, and created jobs for their constituents. They were representing the people who voted for them, not puppet handlers. This is what legislators should do.

Is this class warfare? Yes, but who is really starting it? It's ALEC, AFP, and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. I don't care what your stand is on abortion or gun rights. You need to look at the bigger danger. Wake up!!!

Grégoire Guillaume 6 months, 1 week ago

Thank you Rep.Schwab for bringing to the light of day the way these crooks operate. Obviously most people realize the need for clean energy, real republicans, those that are genuinely conservatives don't need to be afraid of these bullies. Tell the story of what's going on and the people will have your back.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 months, 1 week ago

Ooooooohhhhhhhhh!! Rattle the Koch Regime and get squashed. I hope you fools who voted for these candidates that are in the pockets of billionaires get the message. Your vote is meaningless, the Grand Regime rules your life all the while running "feel-good" commercials on the TV channels.

Fred Mertz 6 months, 1 week ago

So how is not providing an endorsement to a politician that didn't vote the way you wanted any different than the teacher unions, teachers and others organizing to get the vote out against politicians who didn't vote the way they wanted on bills that affected them?

Greg Cooper 6 months, 1 week ago

A couple of points occur to me, Brock.

One, maybe the candidate is trying to distance himself from the AFP bullies, but doesn't want to lose his other Repub support. That would be one reason to bring this to light.

Two, maybe the split in the Repub party is deeper than the general public realizes and the candidate, in his own political way, is trying to bring that split to light without seeming to abandon the Republican Party.

Either way, I'd be much more supportive of the candidate if he'd just say what he thinks.

Regardless of his motive, the real story is the tactics employed by the "radical right" sect against anyone who does not toe the line as stringently as he has been told to. Endorsement by any union or organization is a strong indicator of the strength of the candidates support for that organization's platform. We, as voters, have to look at all the indicators of our candidates' concern for the state as opposed to his/her concern for his job and the puppet masters who attempt to control her/him, whoever they may be,

Kevin Elliott 6 months, 1 week ago

The cost of being in the koch brother pockets is high. They might have to lay off more and more congressional reps

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