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PAC spending at record-high in primary

8/14/2012

By MARY CLARKIN

By MARY CLARKIN

Special to The Hays Daily News

Political action committees chalked up record spending for the Kansas primary election season.

The Kansas Chamber of Commerce PAC, supporting conservatives, easily outdistanced other PACs by spending $675,709 since Jan. 1, according to statistics compiled by the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission.

The other top PACs in terms of spending since the start of the year were:

* Senate Republican Leadership Committee, favoring moderates: $242,601

* Kansas National Education Association: $241,619

* Kansas Realtors: $221,905

* Kansas Jobs, favoring moderates: $187,507.

Some spending happened within the top five, such as the Kansas Republican Leadership Committee and KNEA committees giving sums to Kansas Jobs.

Carol Williams, executive director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, said PAC spending in Kansas since the start of the year and through the first days of August totaled $2,135,220.

"This is only through the primary, and it isn't going to decrease," said Williams, with the general election Nov. 6.

"We'll spend what is necessary to get the message out," said Jeff Glendening, vice president of political affairs for the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, of future spending.

Mark Desetti, director of legislative and political advocacy for the KNEA, pointed to the Kansas Chamber's numbers that tower over other PACs.

But Glendening said the actual level of spending by the Chamber PAC was small compared to rumors during the campaign the chamber was spending as much as $2 million.

Last-minute PAC spending for legislative candidates in 2008 amounted to $134,162. This year, the last-minute PAC spending surged to nearly $798,000.

Those numbers do not include candidate committee spending or expenditures by such groups as Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity for issue ads, because those groups don't fall under the PAC finance reporting rules.

Candidates for the Kansas House took in $1.615 million since Jan. 1, and candidates for the Senate took in $2.311 million, Williams said.

The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission will have its regular monthly meeting Wednesday, and Williams compiled the numbers for the primary election season.

The primary featured a number of hotly contested Republican races between conservatives and moderates, and candidates used various media to convey their message.

"If you saw a lot and heard a lot, this is why," Williams said.