In his bid for a seat in the state Senate, Wichita City Council member Michael ODonnell has received campaign contributions from businesses that have substantial business dealings with City Hall including some he has criticized as being too cozy with council members.
ODonnell received $1,500 in donations from developers of the Ambassador Hotel project, although he was opposed to public development incentives for it and helped lead a successful voter referendum campaign to reduce the citys contribution to the project.
ODonnell said he doesnt have a problem accepting money from those same businesses for his Republican primary Senate race against incumbent Sen. Jean Schodorf.
These businessmen are just very concerned about the direction of Kansas and the state, he said. Im not even sure that they would all give me money for a City Council campaign They know Im going to go up there and fight for a better business climate.
ODonnell slammed Schodorf for taking money from political action committees and even some Democrats.
Schodorf said given ODonnells record, she was surprised to see him get so much money from businesses with ties to City Hall.
Its somewhat shocking he would accept those kinds of donations from people hes directly criticized, she said.
ODonnells biggest business benefactor is his employer oilman, restaurateur and sports team owner Wink Hartman.
Six companies controlled by Hartman each gave ODonnell the maximum legal contribution of $1,000, for $6,000 total.
Other companies and individuals that made contributions to ODonnell include:
• Genesis Health Clubs owner Rodney Steven and companies and associations he controls, $5,000 total. ODonnell was a strong supporter of a deal to allow Genesis to place a health club at the city-owned Wichita Ice Center, which Genesis manages under contract.
• Theater owner Bill Warren, who received substantial city assistance for his Old Town cinema; and three of his companies, $2,000 total.
• Ron and Marty Cornejo and their company, Cornejo and Sons Construction, a prominent public-works contractor for the city, $2,000.
• Companies controlled by Steve Barrett, a real-estate agent and partner in city-subsidized downtown development projects, $2,000.
• Key Construction president David Wells, and two partner companies in the Ambassador Hotel project, $1,500.
In addition to helping block part of the Ambassador Hotel subsidy, ODonnell has publicly criticized Mayor Carl Brewers support of Key Construction, one of Brewers largest campaign contributors, for construction projects. Wells could not be reached for comment.
ODonnell had his own criticisms of Schodorfs fundraising.
I did notice that she has a lot of PAC (political action committee) support where mines mostly coming from business people. I have a little bit of PAC money, he said.
He also criticized Schodorf, a moderate Republican, for accepting money from prominent Democrats including onetime gubernatorial and senatorial candidates Tom and Jill Docking, who held a fundraiser for Schodorf at their home; former Democratic Congressman Dan Glickman; and former U.S. Attorney and congressional candidate Randy Rathbun, who each gave Schodorf $200.
A lot of Democrats gave money to her, ODonnell said.
I have a lot of Republicans, too, Schodorf replied. Ive gotten contributions from hundreds of people.
Overall, Schodorf had $111,000, including $54,000 she had raised since Jan. 1. She had spent $92,000.
ODonnell had raised about $70,000 since Jan. 1 and spent $21,000.
Beyond their own reported contributions, each of the candidates has substantial outside support from groups raising and spending money independently of the campaigns.
The Kansas and Wichita chambers of commerce and Americans for Prosperity have sent mailers out in support of ODonnell.
Schodorf has gotten outside help through mailers from a group called Kansans for Kansas.
In two other hotly contested local Senate Republican primary races, Sen. Carolyn McGinn of Sedgwick had a large fundraising lead over challenger Gary Mason, a business owner who moved from Wichita to Park City to challenge her for the seat, according to campaign finance reports filed Monday.
McGinn had nearly $185,000 for her re-election bid, including $66,000 that she raised since Jan. 1. She had spent about $65,000.
Masons war chest was $70,000, including $18,800 he raised since Jan. 1. That amount also included $23,000 he loaned to his campaign last fall. He had spent $29,000 so far.
Incumbent Sen. Dick Kelsey of Goddard and his challenger, Rep. Dan Kerschen of Garden Plain, were about neck-in neck in campaign cash.
Kerschen held a slight funding advantage over Kelsey, $41,150 to $38,729. Kerschen loaned $10,000 of his own money to the campaign.
So far, Kelsey has spent about $30,000, while Kerschen has spent about $20,500.