Friday, April 08, 2005

Now outside money is bad

In his March 30 column in the Lawrence Journal-World, KU law professor Mike Hoeflich laments the fact that money from outside of Kansas was being used in the campaigns for the "gay marriage amendment" (sic) and the proposed taxpayers' bill of rights.

"In the past, outside money has flooded into Kansas for election campaigns," Hoeflich writes. "Given the very close contests for control of the U.S. House and Senate in recent years, the national political parties have had very good reasons for wanting to support their candidates' campaigns."

Hoeflich continues: "But recently, money has been coming into Kansas campaigns that have no direct bearing on national politics." Further, "Whatever is decided on April 5 or in future votes on policy issues should reflect the considered votes of Kansans, free from outside influence. I would hope that our Legislature would consider the very real dangers of outside campaign funding and find ways, if not to stop it, to at least regulate it better."

Of course, this isn't the first time that money from out of state has funded campaigns that have no bearing on national politics. In fact, out-of-state money was used to fund the living-wage campaign right here in Lawrence.

In the spring of 2000, the Lawrence Coalition for Peace and Justice (LCPJ) applied for and received a $5,500 New Initiatives Fund (NIF) grant from the Central Regional office of the American Friends Service Committee (LCPJ was founded by members of the Oread Meeting of the Society of Friends in the late 1970s). The grant was used to launch the Kaw Valley Living Wage Alliance (KVLWA) and to hire a part-time coordinator. AFSC's Central Regional office, which is based in Des Moines, Iowa, has also given grants to the Flinthills Living Wage Campaign in Manhattan, Kan., and The Kansas Action Network "for support of a statewide Living Wage Conference designed to strengthen KAN's member organizations and build their capacity to act locally and statewide to achieve fair wage victories."

KVLWA in 2002 received $3,000 from the Unitarian Universalist Association's Fund For A Just Society. The UUA, which is based in Boston, Mass., gave KVLWA another $3,200 in 2004 for "a campaign to ensure implementation of the new living wage law and to build a social justice coalition."

Incidentally, UUA operates "Freedom to Marry" campaigns in support of same-sex marriage in several states. It does not appear that any UUA money was sent to Kansas to oppose the anti-same-sex-marriage amendment (Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Manhattan, contributed $157.60 to the Flint Hills Human Rights Project), but the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign (HRC) contributed $5,000 to Kansans for Fairness, which opposed the same-sex marriage ban. (Interestingly, Kansans for Fairness' list of founding organizations includes ProKanDo, the political action committee founded by Wichita abortionist George Tiller. ProKanDo's receipts and expenditures reports show numerous out-of-state contributions, money that was funneled to pro-abortion candidates in Kansas. Would Hoeflich have Kansas ban such contributions and outside influence?)

Hoeflich was writing his column for the Journal-World during the entire living-wage campaign, yet never complained about the "outside influence" then. He also failed to take HRC to task for the "very real dangers" of its "outside campaign funding."

Could it be that Hoeflich is only against out-of-state contributions when those contributions are given to campaigns with which he disagrees?