Opinion Columns & Blogs

Porous wall between policymaking and lobbying in state

Topeka is much smaller than it appears, with power condensed within circles of people who seem to either be related to one another, have worked for one another or both. And any interest group or company looking to influence lawmaking is going to be drawn to the insiders. Yet it’s hard not to flinch at news that ride-share company Uber, which benefited from a gubernatorial veto last week, just signed up lobbyist Mark Dugan, Gov. Sam Brownback’s former campaign manager. It was similarly cringe-worthy to learn last month that former Brownback chief of staff David Kensinger was lobbying on behalf of a tobacco company against the governor’s proposed cigarette tax increase – after Kensinger was among recipients of a state budget draft sent via private e-mail account by state budget director Shawn Sullivan in December. Dugan was on that e-mail list, too. But there are no signs that state lawmakers see a problem with state government’s porous wall between policymaking and lobbying. – Rhonda Holman