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Kansas Congress members earn a ‘B’ on AFP scorecard

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, at 5:19 p.m.

No Congress member from Kansas got a 100 percent rating from the conservative/libertarian activist group Americans for Prosperity this year, the group announced Wednesday.

But all six of the state’s representatives and senators were given a grade of “B” or higher by the group.

AFP was founded by Charles and David Koch of Wichita-based Koch Industries to promote low taxes, free markets and limited government regulation. Each year, the group rates all of the nation’s lawmakers on how they voted on a list of issues important to AFP.

This year, Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, and Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, tied for high score in Kansas with a 95 percent rating.

AFP and congressional records show Pompeo departed from AFP’s recommended votes on only one occasion, voting in favor of House Resolution 2055, a spending bill for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs and related agencies.

Huelskamp also departed only once from the AFP voting line, but it was a much more visible departure: He voted no on the budget resolution proposed by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and was widely quoted in the media saying that it wasn’t conservative enough and did too little to cut spending and the federal deficit.

The vote on the Ryan budget plan and Huelskamp’s equally vocal opposition to compromise on the federal debt ceiling resulted in leadership removing him from the influential Budget and Agriculture committees.

Other Kansas lawmakers’ scores were: Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, 91 percent; Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Hays, 83 percent; Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park, 82 percent; and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Dodge City, 79 percent.

Key issues on the scorecard for the 2011-2012 Congress include votes on repealing the Affordable Care Act, limiting authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide, ending subsidies for ethanol energy, and support for Ryan’s budget plan, the group said in a news release.

In addition to their actual votes in Congress, lawmakers were downgraded if they didn’t sign an AFP pledge to “oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.”

Yoder is the only Kansas member who hasn’t signed the pledge.

This year, the Kansas senators lost points for supporting agricultural and highway appropriations that AFP opposed, the scorecard shows.

James Valvo, director of policy at AFP, said 44 percent of congressional Republicans voted with AFP 80 percent or more of the time. Eighteen representatives and one senator earned a perfect score.

Asked why Roberts got a “B” when he scored less than 80 percent, Valvo said: “Eighty was just sort of a ballpark number that I was using to sort of have a dividing line.”

Ninety-six percent of Democrats scored 20 percent or less on the AFP card, Valvo said. Twenty-one representatives and one senator disagreed with AFP on everything and got a zero rating.

In the 2009-2010 session scorecard, four of six Kansas members got 100 percent on AFP’s card: Roberts, Jenkins, then-Sen. (now Gov.) Sam Brownback and then Rep. Todd Tiahrt.

Moran, who was in the House at that time, got 95 percent for the session and then-Rep. Dennis Moore, the lone Democrat, got a zero rating.

In addition to its scorecard, AFP announced a change in its Kansas leadership Wednesday.

Derrick Sontag has been promoted from state director to a regional director position overseeing AFP activities in 25 states. Sontag is the husband of Brownback’s chief spokesperson, Sherriene Jones-Sontag.

AFP named Jeff Glendening to replace Sontag as Kansas state director. Glendening comes to the position from the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, where he was vice president of political affairs.

Reach Dion Lefler at 316-268-6527.

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