Elections

Chamber, Intrust, Westar biggest Yes Wichita contributors

Yes Wichita received contributions totaling $321,527 in addition to $56,085.51 in-kind contributions.
Yes Wichita received contributions totaling $321,527 in addition to $56,085.51 in-kind contributions. File photo

Intrust Bank, the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce and Westar Energy were the largest donors to the group that supported the proposed city sales tax, according to campaign finance documents filed with Sedgwick County.

The 1-cent-per-dollar sales tax – promoted as a way to pay for a future water supply, economic development, street repairs and public transit – was defeated by voters 62 percent to 37 percent on Nov. 4.

Yes Wichita received donations totaling $321,527 in addition to $56,085.51 of in-kind contributions. The group had about 130 individual and business donors, with the majority of donations $50 or more.

“We were who we said we were, a broad-based group of businesses, unions and individuals,” Yes Wichita co-chairman Jon Rolph said. “It was a healthy spend for us and we raised the money pretty quickly.”

But with the sales tax defeat, the issues Wichita faces do not go away, Rolph said.

“We’re proud of our efforts. We feel like we advanced conversations around these issues, but the problems are still out there,” Rolph said.

“The hope still would be that the coalitions and its members and funders will be party to creating specific solutions to these specific problems. It’s going to be important for Wichita to find those solutions moving forward.”

The Yes Wichita campaign spend was “eclipsed” by the group against the sales tax, the Coalition for a Better Wichita, Rolph said.

Last week, the coalition released its campaign finance documents, which showed Koch Cos. Public Sector spent more than $1 million to defeat the sales tax.

It was the largest donor to the group. All but $3,165 of the $1,075,890.63 the campaign collected from August through November came from Koch. That campaign had about 150 donors, with most donations ranging from $1 to $100.

Intrust Bank CEO Charlie Chandler, a friend of Charles Koch, spoke in favor of the sales tax to the City Council in August.

Chandler is co-chair of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Council, one of the groups that worked on the jobs proposal.

Total expenditures were $308,044.98, leaving Yes Wichita with $13,482 in cash at hand at the end of the period.

Reach Kelsey Ryan at 316-269-6752 or kryan@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @kelsey_ryan.

Donors who gave $5,000 or more to the Yes Wichita campaign:

▪ Leadership Council of Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, $50,000

▪ Intrust Bank, $40,000

▪ Westar Energy, $25,000

▪ Jeffrey and Rhonda Turner, $10,000

▪ Emprise Bank, $10,000

▪ Spirit AeroSystems, $10,000

▪ PEC, $10,000

▪ Don Barry, $10,000

▪ Jack DeBoer, $10,000

▪ Burns and McDonnell, $10,000

▪ Sasnak Management, $10,000

▪ Slawson Real Estate, $8,000

▪ Envision, $5,000

▪ GLMV Architecture, $5,000

▪ Lubrication Engineers, $5,000

▪ Foley Industries, $5,000

▪ Star Lumber, $5,000

▪ Kansas Ready Mix, $5,000

▪ Equity Bank, $5,000

▪ Yingling Aircraft, $5,000

Source: Documents filed with Sedgwick County

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