Politics & Government

Kansas House widely rejects higher campaign contribution limits

Kansas House of Representative chambers.
Kansas House of Representative chambers. File photo

The Kansas House overwhelmingly rejected a measure that would have increased how much individuals and committees could give to political campaigns.

HB 2011 would have raised the contribution limit for a state senator or state education board member from $1,000 to $2,500. It would have raised the limit for large, county offices from $500 to $2,500. And it would have doubled the maximum amount people could give to candidates for governor or the Kansas House.

Rep. Tom Cox, R-Shawnee, said the bill was needed because “dark money” groups can already raise funds without limits.

“We’ve see many good people hindered by the unlimited use of spending by special interests on one or two issues,” Cox said. “This gives people more options. … Money is a form of speech.

“This is going to be better for fair and free elections,” he said.

But other lawmakers said higher cash limits would harm the democratic process and further deter people without large sums of money from seeking office.

“I don’t think that the best way for us to combat more money in politics is by adding more money in politics,” said Rep. Brandon Whipple, D-Wichita.

Rep. Kathy Wolfe Moore, D-Kansas City, said the bill would have led to nastier political campaigns.

“I can’t imagine that any of our constituents think it’s a good idea that they would get more mail, especially if it’s ugly mail,” she said.

Rep. Jeff Pittman, D-Leavenworth, said the timing of the bill was poor as the state struggles to fill its budget hole.

“At the same time we’re trying to fix that, we’re asking for more money in our campaign pockets,” Pittman said. “We’re sending the wrong message to our fellow Kansans.”

The House voted 101-22 against sending the bill to a final vote.

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar