The political arm of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce spent more than a quarter of a million dollars on statehouse races this year, trying to beat moderate Republicans with a healthy dose of cash from Koch Industries.
New reports out Monday night revealed that the chamber's political action committee had spent $281,599 aiding conservative Republican candidates engaged in hot primaries across Kansas.
The chamber raised $228,000 between Jan. 1 and July 26. More than half its contributions -- $125,000 -- came from Koch Industries, the Wichita-based company run by conservative billionaires David and Charles Koch.
The chamber received money from an array of other companies including Kansas City Power & Light, Kansas Gas Service, Boeing and Lawrence Paper Co. Retiring state Rep. Owen Donohoe of Shawnee and his company gave the chamber about $9,000.
About $60,000 from the chamber has flowed into legislative races in Johnson and Wyandotte counties, mostly to help conservative Republicans running for the Senate, which has been blamed for blocking Gov. Sam Brownback's agenda.
The Kansas Chamber, which advocates for tax cuts and less government, spent about $54,000 helping conservative Johnson County Senate candidates David Harvey, Jim Denning, Jeff Melcher, Greg Smith and incumbent Sen. Pat Apple.
Four of those candidates are in primaries against moderate Senate hopefuls: Harvey against state Rep. Kay Wolf, Denning against incumbent Sen. Tim Owens, Smith against Joe Beveridge and Melcher against state Rep. Pat Colloton. Apple, ironically, is in a race against another conservative, Charlotte O'Hara.
About $27,000 was paid to Victory Enterprises of Davenport, Iowa for radio and cable production to help Harvey, Denning, Smith and Melcher. The chamber spent $130,000 with Victory Enterprises helping conservative candidates statewide.
Another $27,400 was spent on printing and postage with Singularis Group of Johnson County to help the same foursome plus incumbent Sen. Apple. Overall, the chamber spent about $100,000 with Singularis on work statewide.
The chamber also sprinkled several thousands of dollars in contributions on conservative House candidates who are in contested Republican primaries. The chamber gave $500 each to conservatives Charles Macheers, Bruce Belanger, Jerry Lunn, Craig McPherson, Jim Todd and Stephen Foster among others. Denning, the Senate candidate, also received a $1,000 campaign contribution.
The chamber started the year with $111,692 in the bank. It had $58,557 left as of July 26.