Friday, October 15, 2010

Tax Dollars Being Used to Promote Chris Biggs

What do you do when polls have you down 15 points to your challenger?

Commission an ad, paid for by tax dollars, to promote yourself under the guise of promoting advanced voting in Kansas.

That's what Secretary of State Chris Biggs is doing, spending almost $160,000 of Help America Vote Act money in this recent ad on television across Kansas. Notably, the Kris Kobach campaign has objected, as covered by the Lawrence Journal World.

First of all, Biggs claims it is a public service announcement -- not quite, it's a paid TV ad. While it is paid for with federal dollars, tax dollars are tax dollars.

Second of all, if Biggs wanted to avoid any issues concerning promoting himself, the ad could have said "Brought to you by the Kansas Secretary of State's office" and eliminated the picture of him at the end, oddly surrounded by four people in his office, a picture which screams "look at me, I'm your Secretary of State and am hard at work giving commands to my minions!"

But no, the desperate Chris Biggs -- a Democratic Sebelius hack appointed when Ron Thornburgh bailed on Kansans and quit the job early under a Democratic Governor -- couldn't resist the temptation to have $159,000 in free advertising for his failing campaign.

What's even more pathetic is that this isn't the first time Chris Biggs has done this. As covered by the Kansas Watchdog, Biggs also did this in 2005 while he was the Kansas Securities Commissioner. Then, $400,000 of your tax dollars went to promote an ad promoting himself. While not an elected official at the time, the self-promotion was still hard to take, particularly from a complete gas-bag like Chris Biggs.

Another component of this that bothers us -- and perhaps not others -- is why the state should even be spending tax dollars to promote Advanced Voting anyway. Now, it makes sense for a political party -- or a political candidate (like Biggs!) -- to promote early voting from supporters so people lock in their vote for you before anything can change their mind. But why should the state care when people vote, as long as they do vote?

As anyone who has been to a polling place on election day in the last few cycles knows, there are no longer lines at polling places, due to advanced voting. So to use that as an excuse to promote advanced voting now is misleading. While we could see the justification of an ad to encourage people to vote period -- it is not as if the thousands of yard signs, phone calls, mailers, and television ads from candidates and political parties aren't giving people a clue that an election is around the corner, particularly given that almost every ad or mailer tells people when to vote, or how to vote early, if they wish.

This $159,000 is a perfect example of wasted tax dollars to promote something that doesn't need promotion -- advanced voting. And it certainly shouldn't be tolerable for an elected official to use tax dollars to promote himself within 30 days of an election.

The good news is that Kris Kobach is crushing Chris Biggs in the polls, and given that Steve Six and Dennis McKinney are also losing -- perhaps the Kathleen Sebeilus era can be put to bed once and for all in Kansas, if only so we can get their mugs off our televisions and we can all have some hope that our tax dollars are being spent wisely.