Funding, values, and the Kansas State Board of Education

The race to determine who represents District 6 on the Kansas State Board of Education promises to be a close one. Democrat Christopher Renner is challenging one-term incumbent conservative Republican Kathy Martin in November's general election.

The litmus test this year seems to be the issue of the state science standards: how should they evolve? Martin, a staunch opponent of evolution, stated in May of 2005, "We are not going to give up until the standards say what we want them to say." She is also on the record as stating that her pro-science opponent, Renner, does not have "the values north-central Kansas citizens want guiding education for children." Martin also claimed in a fund-raising letter,

"I fully expect that every Democratic and left-leaning group in the state (and even some from beyond our borders) will weigh in on his behalf to try to defeat me."

However, campaign finance reports paint a starkly contrasting picture.

Fully 81% of Renner's contributions come from north-central Kansas' 6th District, while Martin's constituents have provided only 28% of Martin's financial support over the past 4 years.

According to Martin's campaign finance statements from July and October of 2004 and July 2008, $24,034 of the $34,024 in itemized contributions she raised - almost 3/4 - came from outside her district.

On the other hand, Renner's campaign finance statement shows that only $1375 of the $7281 he's raised - or less than 1/5 - has come from outside the 6th District.

These numbers show that Martin's base of support lies outside her own district. Major contributors to her campaigns include Intelligent Design Network founder John Calvert and his wife of Lake Quivira, and the F.A.I.R. (Free Academic Inquiry and Research Committee) PAC, a branch of the Kansas Republican Assembly from Topeka. The F.A.I.R. PAC is part of an incestuous network of state and federal PACs such as the Kansas Republican Victory Funds, all of which share the same post office box and treasurer. Other non-constituent contributors were IDNet's William Harris, fellow anti-evolution state board members Ken Willard and John Bacon, Kris Van Meteren and Don Small of the Kansas Republican Assembly, and Joe Renick of New Mexico's Intelligent Design Network.

Questions about funding aren't limited to Martin's campaign contributions. According to Renner,

"What is at issue is her waste of taxpayer dollars to hold hearings, which sought to impose a religious ideology on all Kansas children in the guise of science. What is at issue is her hiring a totally unqualified person as Commissioner of Education and wasting taxpayer dollars by giving him a golden parachute when the conservatives lost control in 2006; and, what is at issue is her being nothing but a pawn in a much larger effort by ideological outsiders to override the voice of 6th District Kansans. Talk about not representing north-central Kansas values!"

I wonder . . . how can Martin justify attacking her opponent for a characteristic he doesn't have, but she does?

Data from:
Martin July 2004 statement
Martin October 2004 statement
Martin July 2008 statement
Renner July 2008 statement

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