Politics & Government

Brownback campaign manager Mark Dugan establishes political consulting firm

Gov. Sam Brownback’s campaign manager has established a political consulting firm in Wichita.

Mark Dugan, who managed Brownback’s successful re-election campaign in 2014, has formed the Dugan Consulting Group, which will provide consulting on political campaigns and also work as a contract lobbying firm.

Dugan, 30, a Wichita native, said his firm would have an active presence in Topeka but would be based in his hometown. He has secured at least one client and will register as a lobbyist for the 2015 legislative session representing the Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation, a Wichita-based organization that provides services for people with disabilities. The session starts next week.

The organization provides a broad range of services for people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. Dugan said that people involved with the programs make state license plates and also do work for Wichita-based Spirit AeroSystems.

“Really what they’re all about is providing work opportunities for people with disabilities who want to work. It’s a great organization with a great mission and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Dugan said.

The firm was first established during the gubernatorial campaign, registering with the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office on April 25.

Brownback’s campaign finance records show that Dugan Consulting Group LLC received monthly payments of $10,000 from the campaign from April through October. The firm then received a payment of $30,000 after the election on Nov. 24, according to campaign finance documents filed with Secretary of State’s Office this week, and an additional payment of $2,500 on Dec. 3. The payments from the campaign to Dugan’s consulting group total $102,500.

Dugan served as Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer’s chief of staff after the 2010 election until leaving that position to take over Brownback’s campaign last March. He also worked as the assistant secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment from 2012 until last year and had previously worked as an aide to former U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, a Republican from Goddard.

Dugan also has headed the governor’s inauguration committee.

Dugan downplayed the role these high-profile relationships would have in assisting his advocacy efforts at the Capitol.

“I think what I have found in my time in government service, everyone up there is doing the best they can for the state of Kansas … it’s all about making your case on the issues itself,” Dugan said. “I think I’m going to have a strong case. I don’t put a lot of stock in relationships.”

Dugan said he remains loyal to Brownback.

“What’s important to me is to continue to work on projects that I have a passion for and align with the governor’s agenda,” he said.

“Campaigns are hard work. And the bigger the issues … the harder and more spirited a debate you’re going to have,” he said, reflecting on the election. “I enjoyed the opportunity because I believed in the governor and I believed in his policies. And I think that’s the key for me; if you’re going to campaign, you really have to believe in it.”

During the campaign Dugan often made fiery statements to the media and in fundraising e-mails, which framed the race as an ideological battle and accused media outlets of bias against Brownback. He also attacked Democrat Paul Davis and dismissed reports about concerns over the state’s finances.

“The national left cares about the governor’s race because Sam Brownback has been an effective governor. You will continue to hear the sky is falling from the New York Times, NPR, and of course the wonderful liberals on MSNBC who apparently have problems with the governor’s religious beliefs,” Dugan said in a July fundraising e-mail. “For the rest of the campaign you can expect much of what Republicans have come to expect the past three and a half years from the local editorial pages: Name calling and over the top hyperbole.”

With Dugan at the helm, Brownback defeated Davis by 4 percentage points in November. Brownback will be sworn in for a second term on Monday.

Reach Bryan Lowry at 785-296-3006 or blowry@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BryanLowry3.