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Public must wait for finance reports in school elections

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Although candidates and political action committees active in the Lawrence city commission races have filed campaign finance statements, the public will have to wait until December to learn who is contributing to school board candidates and a campaign promoting the district's $92.5 million bond proposal.

Benjamin Lampe, deputy of elections in the Douglas County Clerk's office, said that's because Kansas statutes treat the two kinds of elections differently.

The Kansas Campaign Finance Act only applies to elections for state offices, cities of the first class and school school districts with more than 35,000 students - which is to say, the Wichita school district. That law requires filing periodic reports leading up to an election and 30 days after the election.

But campaigns for board seats and ballot initiatives involving all other school districts fall under a different statute, K.S.A. 25-901, which only requires them to file an annual report on or before Dec. 31 each year.

Furthermore, Lampe said, three of the four candidates running for the school board this year - Kristie Adair, Bob Byers and Vanessa Sanburn - have already filed notices that they'll be exempt from having to file reports because they intend to raise and spend less than $500 on their campaigns. That means Adina Morse is the only candidate who will have to file a year-end report.

Sanburn also is working actively with Yes for Lawrence, which stated publicly that it raised about $600 on the first day the committee organized. Other committee members said the group hopes to raise and spend about $15,000 in support of the $92.5 million bond proposal.

Yes for Lawrence is co-chaired by Rep. Paul Davis, the Kansas House Democratic leader, and Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, a Republican. The committee recently began running a TV commercial supporting the bond proposal.

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