Friday, October 12, 2012

Americans for Prosperity mailers arriving in support of Republican candidates

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

Campaign mailers from the Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity that are aimed at defeating Democrats in state legislative races have started arriving in mailboxes around northeast Kansas.

The mailers are identical except interchanging the names and photos of Republican candidates, and praising those candidates as ones who will fight spending, cut taxes, and "stop ObamaCare."

Because AFP is considered an issue advocacy group, it does not have to disclose how much it spends or who donates to it.

The organization was founded by billionaires Charles and David Koch who run Kansas-based Koch Industries and who finance numerous conservative political groups.

State Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, whose Republican opponent Casey Moore is praised in the one of the mailers, said AFP was "up to their old tricks again."

AFP dumped an unknown amount of money in the August Republican Party primary, in which eight moderate Republicans were ousted. Gov. Sam Brownback was involved in some of the races to defeat moderates.

"They are backing candidates who support Gov. Brownback's agenda to make further cuts to public education and social services, all so that AFP and similar groups can benefit from the irresponsible Brownback income tax cuts," Hensley said.

Brownback signed into law tax cuts that exempt the owners of 191,000 partnerships, sole proprietorships and other businesses from income taxes, and drop the top individual income tax rate from 6.45 percent to 4.9 percent.

Legislative researchers say the cuts will produce revenue shortfalls approaching $2.5 billion. Brownback says the cuts will grow the economy.

Hensley also noted that AFP's claim that Republican state legislative candidates will stop ObamaCare is untrue since that is a federal law.

A spokesman for the Kansas chapter of AFP couldn't be immediately reached for comment, but AFP has defended its use of ObamaCare as an issue in state legislative races.

The Lawrence Journal-World obtained copies of AFP mailers that tout state Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, who faces state Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, in the 3rd Senate District race; Dick Barta, the Republican challenger to state Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, in the 18th Senate District; and the Hensley-Moore matchup in the 19th Senate District.

Hensley said similar mailers are being found in other districts as well.