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Wind war’s total: Nearly half-million in lobbying dollars 

Credit:  By Andy Marso | The Topeka Capital-Journal | May 24, 2014 | cjonline.com ~~

The latest filings posted by the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission show that spending on official lobbying topped $1 million through April in the 2014 session, driven largely by a heated debate over the state’s renewable energy standards.

Six votes on repealing the Renewable Portfolio Standards, or RPS, resulted in the state opting to keep the standards, which were established in 2009 and call for 20 percent of Kansas electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. Five groups that lobbied heavily on that issue combined to spend almost $500,000.

Much of the spending on the issue came from Americans for Prosperity, whose session-long bid to repeal the standards ended with the House’s 60-63 vote on the last day of the session, May 2.

Here is a look at the biggest players in the debate and what they spent in aggregate on official lobbying, which has a reportable threshold of $100 and doesn’t include lobbyists’ salaries and “educational” work like presentations or website development.

Americans for Prosperity-Kansas

Amount spent: $386,852.75 ($382,932.90 on “mass media,” $3,495.87 on “food and beverage,” $98 on “recreation” and $325.98 on “other.”)

Position on RPS: Favors repeal

Registered lobbyists: Jeff Glendening, Matthew Hickam, Gavin Kreidler, Beka Romm and Roger Woods

Summary: AFP-Kansas advocates on behalf of free market principles on a number of different issues, but Glendening, the group’s executive director, called RPS repeal the top priority during the session and the heavy spending on mass media correlates with the statewide television and radio ad blitz urging repeal.

The “Issues” page on the group’s website lists just two posts during the 2014 session: RPS repeal and stopping Medicaid expansion.

As a 501(c)(4) “social welfare” nonprofit, AFP isn’t required to disclose donor information and traditionally hasn’t done so. But Forbes and other news outlets have traced the group to Wichita brothers Charles and David Koch, who have made billions in the oil and natural gas industry. The 990 form AFP’s national chapter filed with the IRS in 2012 listed David Koch as chairman and $24 million in total revenue.

Glendening didn’t respond to an email sent Wednesday.

Wind Works
for Kansas

Amount spent: $43,685.71 ($34,414.68 on “mass media” and $9,271.03 on “communications”)

Position on RPS: Favors retention

Registered lobbyist: Dorothy Barnett

Summary: A conglomerate of environmental and wind industry groups that includes The Wind Coalition, Kansans for Wind Energy, the Climate and Energy Project and Kansans for Clean Energy. Barnett is executive director of the Climate and Energy Project, a Lawrence-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that was spun off from the Land Institute in 2011.

That group’s 990 form from 2011 showed Barnett was paid $68,333 that year. Her lobbying work is separate from her work with the Climate and Energy Project, which didn’t spend any money on official lobbying.

Barnett provided three years’ worth of financial audits from the Climate and Energy Project, which showed about $300,000 in assets last year and $43,330 in spending on educational efforts in “defense of RPS.”

“We receive funding from a variety of donors from all across the country,” Barnett said. “Most of them are foundations interested in mitigating climate change.”

Kansans for Clean Energy is a conglomerate within the Wind Works for Kansas conglomerate. It includes Barnett’s group, the Kansas Farmers Union, the Kansas Rural Center, Kansas Sierra Club, Kansas Interfaith Power and Light, and the Kansas Natural Resource Council. Those groups are listed on the Kansans for Clean Energy webpage, which was created by Jake Lowen and Kansas Democratic Party veteran Mike Gaughan’s company, Kansas Grassroots.

“They worked very inexpensively to create a single-page website,” Barnett said.

Kansas Senior
Consumer Alliance

Amount spent: $40,470.40 (all on “mass media”)

Position on RPS: Favors repeal

Registered lobbyist: Alan Cobb

Summary: Virginia Crossland-Macha, sister of Kansas Chamber of Commerce chairman Ivan Crossland, has identified herself as the founder of this group, but she and the Kansas Chamber, which also pushed for repealing the RPS, say the two organizations are connected.

Glendening said he helped Crossland-Macha find an attorney to form the alliance as a limited liability company but did so in his individual capacity and that AFP also isn’t connected.

Cobb, who didn’t respond to an email sent Wednesday, previously worked for AFP, and the national organization’s 990 form from 2012 shows him receiving $175,731 in reportable compensation that year to serve as vice president of state operations.

Business filings with the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office show the alliance was formed April 24. By the end of the month it had raised and spent $40,470.40 on mass media, sending out RPS repeal mailers to several House districts. As an LLC, it isn’t required to disclose funding sources.

The Wind Coalition

Amount spent: $15,623.09 ($13,636.70 on “mass media” and $1,986.39 on “food and beverage”)

Position on RPS: Favors retention

Registered lobbyists: Kimberly Svaty, Bill Brady, Michelle Butler, Leigh Keck, Sean Miller and John Peterson

Summary: The coalition is an Austin-based organization that advocates for the wind industry in Texas and throughout the Southwest Power Pool.

Much of its funding comes from membership dues and a list of members found on the coalition’s website includes major energy companies like BP Alternative Energy North America, GE Energy and Vestas-Americas Inc.

The coalition’s executive director in Texas is Jeff Clark, a former head of the Texas branch of the National Federation of Independent Business who also worked on George W. Bush’s presidential campaign. The coalition’s policy director is Steve Gaw, who served as Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives as a Democrat. Svaty led the group’s lobbying efforts in addition to having a baby during the session.

Clark said he contracted Svaty’s services for about $4,000 per month.

“What we pay our people in Kansas is far too little for what they have to put up with,” Clark said.

NextEra Energy
Resources/Kansans for Wind Energy

Amount spent: $2,730.81 ($2,480.81 on “food and beverage,” $125 on “gifts” and $125 on “recreation”)

Position on RPS: Favors retention

Registered lobbyists: Karin Brownlee, Eli Johns and Michael Murray

Summary: Kansans for Wind Energy reported no official lobbying expenses. Spokesman Richard Martin said NextEra, which logged a modest lobbying amount, paid for the Saxum public relations firm to develop the Kansans for Wind Energy website and Facebook page.

All three lobbyists are registered under NextEra, but Brownlee, the former Kansas secretary of labor, also is affiliated with Kansans for Wind Energy.

Florida-based NextEra is a subsidiary of a Fortune 200 company focused on renewable energy. According to opensecrets.org, that company is a significant player in federal politics, spending almost $4 million on lobbying at that level in 2013.


Lobbying totals through April for groups heavily involved in RPS debate:

Americans for Prosperity-Kansas: $386,852.75

Wind Works for Kansas: $43,685.71

Kansas Senior Consumer Alliance: $40,470.40

The Wind Coalition: $15,623.09

NextEra Energy Resources/Kansans for Wind Energy: $2,730.81

Source:  By Andy Marso | The Topeka Capital-Journal | May 24, 2014 | cjonline.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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