Report shows “Middle of the Road PAC” is on the left side of the road

Two-thirds of donations in recent PAC report are from out-of-state.
Illinois Governor is the largest donor to Gov. Kelly’s PAC

As published by Watchdog Lab. – shared with permission

By Earl F Glynn

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly is annoyed by the Republican supermajority in the legislature, so she started a Middle of the Road PAC to do something about it.
But “Middle of the Road” is not an accurate name for this PAC. Everything leans left in its campaign finance report.

A WatchdogLab article identified Middle of the Road PAC as tied for #1 in money rankings for the recent Jan. 2024 PAC reports.
The campaign finance report gives details about donors, as well as the vendor and contractor recipients, which will be discussed below.

Large donors

All the donors can be viewed online in the original report at the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, but the following table highlights the larger donations.

Table 1. Donors giving $10,000 or more the Middle of the Road PAC in Jan. 2024 report.

Surprisingly, Illinois Democratic Governor JB Pritzker gave this PAC $250,000, which was the largest single donation. Through his Pritzker Family Foundation he also contributes to far-left organizations, such as the Center for American Progress and the Clinton Foundation.

The PAC report showed $132,000 from Democratic Action, which was the second largest donation. Open Secrets shows Democratic Action PAC gives exclusively to the Democratic Party. An FEC summary shows Democratic Action money often goes to state democratic parties.

How is that “middle of the road?”

The third largest donation to the PAC ($52,000) was from the Kansas Values Institute nonprofit.

The largest known KVI donors are teacher unions, abortion-related organizations, “dark money,” and the Democratic Governors Association.

Four union donations when combined would make a $130,000 donation, which could be considered the third largest donor: IBEW ($45,000), UFCW ($40,000), Pipefitters ($25,000) and Smart TD PAC ($20,000).

As a very large recipient of government money from JoCo, De Soto and Kansas to build the Panasonic battery plant, why is developer Sunflower Redevelopment LLC giving Kelly’s PAC $15,000?

Was Pfizer’s $10,000 donation to Kelly’s PAC some sort of “thank you” for her recommendation of the Pfizer vaccine booster, and mandate for lockdowns in Kansas?

Donors by State

A breakdown of the PAC donors by state shows nearly two-thirds of the dollars were from outside Kansas even though 87% of the 212 donations were from Kansas sources.

Table 2. Number and amounts of donations by state to the Middle of the Road PAC. Nearly two-thirds of donors were from out-of-state.

Vendors/Contractors By State

Nearly 90% of the expenditures by Middle of the Road PAC were with Kansas entities, based on dollars, even though only 58% of the 57 payments remained in Kansas.

Table 3. Number of payments and amounts by state paid by Middle of the Road PAC.

The names and amounts to all vendors and contractors are shown in the next table.


Table 4. Middle of the Road PAC report showed 57 payments totaling more than $100,000 were sent to about 20 entities.

The person receiving the largest amount ($30,000) from the PAC was Will Lawrence. Linked-In identifies Will Lawrence as Chief of Staff for Gov. Laura Kelly Lawrence received two payments of $7500 in Oct. 2023, and two more on Nov. 24, 2023.

Gov. Kelly’s chief of staff was the largest recipient of money spent by the PAC.

The second largest amount ($25,703) paid by the PAC was in 12 payments to Lauren Fitzgerald, who received three payments of exactly $6000 on Nov. 13, 2023. An earlier payment of $6000 was paid on Oct. 13. Fitzgerald served as Gov. Kelly’s communications director until her sabbatical. Fitzgerald is also director of the Kansas Coalition for Common Sense nonprofit.

Another KCCS director, Jordanna Ziegler, received $454 for a travel reimbursement. Ziegler, a Democratic Governors Association Senior Campaigns Advisor, authored an online memo on Aug. 3, 2022, “KS Gov Race is About Bipartisan Results vs. Going Back to Brownback,” which was consistent with Kansas Values Institute TV ads to smear Derek Schmidt.

My X posting from Aug. 7, 2022 about connections between the new Middle of the Road PAC and the new Kansas Coalition for Common Sense nonprofit

The third largest ($7500) recipient of Middle of the Road PAC payments was Ryan Wright, who was the executive director of Kansas Values Institute from 2011 until 2018. Wright left KVI to join the staff of Gov. Laura Kelly.

On Dec. 6, 2022 the current Kansas Values Institute executive director, Evan Gates, admitted at Kansas Post-Election Conference at the Dole Institute of Politics that KVI spent around $17.5 million in 2022 election ― more than the total of Kelly’s and Schmidt’s campaigns combined. View Gates’ statement below.

The next largest payment ($5000 each), all for “Consultant Organizing Services,” were to four people, three of which are listed here:

  • Rebecca Sabel, Director or Operations and Scheduling. in Gov. Kelly’s office.
  • Rhonda Arnold, Special Assistant to the Chief of State in Gov. Kelly’s office. Arnold had worked for Gov. Sebelius years ago.

Kansas Democrats, and especially the misnamed “Middle of the Road PAC”, will attempt to make a big impact on Kansas government through elections this year. What will that be?


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