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SPOTLIGHT
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Kansas AFP director acknowledges informal contact with group

Published on -5/9/2014, 11:46 AM

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By Bryan Lowry

The Wichita Eagle

(MCT) A day after denying any connection to a direct mail campaign against the state's renewable energy standards, the Kansas director of Americans For Prosperity said that he helped connect the group's founder with an attorney so that it could form as an LLC.

Jeff Glendening, the state director of AFP, said Thursday that he had connected Virginia Crossland-Macha, founder of Kansas Senior Consumer Alliance, with attorney W. Robert Alderson. He said he had forgotten this when he was interviewed by The Eagle on Wednesday.

He apologized for the oversight and said there is no official connection between the two groups.

"There's no formal connection between AFP and this group. There really isn't, other than yes, we agreed on the RPS issue. I don't know what other issues they're going to take up," Glendening said.

"I've known Virginia for years and she simply asked about forming a group and I connected the two and that was it," he said.

Kansas Senior Consumer Alliance sent out postcards to several House districts last week, warning that renewable energy standards would drive up electric rates for seniors. The return address on the postcards belongs to Crossland-Macha, a conservative activist in Iola.

Crossland-Macha is the sister of Ivan Crossland, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce's chair. The group's registered lobbyist is Alan Cobb, the former Kansas director of Americans For Prosperity.

On Wednesday, both groups denied any connection to the postcards in interviews with The Eagle. Cobb and Crossland-Macha also said their organization, which formed as a limited liability corporation in April, was unrelated to the chamber and AFP.

But Alderson, a Topeka attorney, told the Topeka Capital-Journal on Thursday that he was approached by AFP to form the group as an LLC.

Another attorney recommended Alderson to Glendening, who said he contacted the lawyer and shared Crossland-Macha's information.

He called it a non-event.

"It was a personal thing. It was not an AFP thing. She approached me, 'How do you this?' " Glendening said.

Alderson gave a similar account to The Eagle. He said he misspoke to the Capital-Journal and that although Glendening contacted him, it was not on behalf of AFP.

"Here's where I really screwed up, I shouldn't have said who my client was," Alderson said. "I drew up the papers and my office serves as the registered agent."

The postcards made an unsourced claim that renewable energy standards have increased electric rates by 27 percent in other states. The Kansas Corporation Commission has pegged the increase from renewable standards at around 2 percent.

Rep. Don Hineman, R-Dighton, a supporter of the renewable energy standards, accused the direct mail campaign of using scare tactics to manipulate seniors. He also voiced skepticism that Kansas Senior Consumer Alliance is actually a grassroots organization for seniors.

"Here's the thing to look at," Hineman said. "If it's truly a grassroots organization of senior citizens, where's the money coming from? It's not a cheap deal to produce all of those postcards and mail them throughout the state. That's a substantial undertaking."

"That's pretty impressive for a truly grassroots organization to pull that off in one week's time," he said. "I'm just very skeptical of that. And I'd be very interested to see a membership for that organization or a list of contributors."

(c)2014 The Wichita Eagle

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