U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo will head into the final weeks before the Aug. 5 Republican primary with a huge cash advantage over his opponent, former U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt.
Tiahrt’s campaign, which just began fundraising this past quarter, raised $90,345. He has loaned an additional $51,000 of his own money to the campaign.
But Tiahrt said he’s not too worried about the gap in funds. “I’ve only been in business for six weeks now. He’s been doing it for two years.”
Pompeo’s campaign touted the money advantage in a press release, saying that it shows Kansans support the incumbent congressman. The release states that Pompeo has received 445 individual contributions from Kansas donors since the start of the election cycle, totaling more than $680,000.
“Mike is humbled by the overwhelming support he has received from voters across the 4th Congressional District,” said Jim Richardson, Pompeo’s campaign manager, in a statement.
In a phone call, Richardson brushed aside Tiahrt’s time comparison. “Tiahrt’s been planning this for a year. It’s not our fault they decided to file in June,” he said.
Richardson said that Pompeo’s money edge reflects grassroots support. But many of the candidate’s donors in this quarter get their money from the same employer, Koch Industries.
Twenty-seven donors to Pompeo this quarter list either Koch Industries, Koch Companies Public Sector or another subsidiary, such as Koch Power, as their employer.
Steve Packebush, the president of Koch’s fertilizer division, gave Pompeo a pair of checks on April 18 that together equal $2,600. He gave another $1,000 before this quarter.
His wife, Kim Packebush, who lists her occupation as homemaker, also gave Pompeo $2,600 on April 18.
Charles Koch has given Pompeo’s campaign $5,200 this cycle. That does not include money given to outside groups that support Pompeo.
His son, Chase Koch, has given the same amount. And several other family members using the same post office box in Wichita have also donated. Julia Koch and Elizabeth Koch, each donated a pair of checks on April 24 for a total of $5,200 each, the maximum amount an individual donor can give a campaign during an election cycle.
“The Kochs want the best legislation that money can buy,” Tiahrt said.
Tiahrt received support from the Kochs and their political organization in the past. But he said that Koch Industries’ support of Pompeo now is actually good news, because the spending shows that his campaign has momentum.
Richardson acknowledged the donations from Koch Industries’ employees in a short statement.
"Of course Mike has support from many Koch Industries employees, just like he has support from Kansans all across the 4th District from every walk of life," Richardson said in an e-mail.
Tiahrt has his own wealthy supporters. Oil magnate Willis “Wink” Hartman and his wife, Elizabeth “Libba” Hartman, each sent him checks for $2,600.
He has also received money from David Neumann, president of the Neumann Systems Group in Colorado Springs, and his wife, Diane. They gave $2,600 each.
Tiahrt served as CEO for Neumann Systems, a company that makes pollution controls, after leaving Congress.
Tiahrt said his donors are people frustrated by the job Pompeo’s done in Congress. Richardson noted that the Neumanns live outside the state.
Pompeo has received significant money from political action committees. The campaign got more than $200,000 from various political committees in the past quarter, and is closing in on $1 million for the cycle.
Tiarht has not received any donations from political committees, according to his form.
“The question here is will the people of the 4th District of Kansas let this election be bought by big money or will this be a seat that represents the people?” Tiahrt said.
Richardson said that PAC donations show that Pompeo has earned the trust of a wide variety of constituencies.
“Every single time that an organization has had an opportunity to say who represents our values – whether it’s the Kansas Farm Bureau, the NRA, Kansans For Life or the General Aviation Manufacturers Association – every single time they have said Mike Pompeo is the preferred candidate,” Richardson said.
The Club For Growth, a conservative organization that supports income tax cuts, has given Pompeo $46,547 this cycle.
Pompeo is one of only two incumbent congressman being supported by The Club For Growth, according to Richardson.
Pompeo has also attracted corporate supporters. The defense manufacturer Lockheed Martin’s political action committee gave him $10,000 this cycle. And cable giant Comcast’s corporate PAC gave him $8,000.