The Kansas Meadowlark

Aug 10, 2005
(Updated Aug 11, 2005)


Kansas Securities Commissioner 
to spend $400,000 from fines to promote his office? 


Update:  LJWorld, Aug 27, 2005:  Biggs won't face Kline in rematch

 

The Kansas Supreme Court ordered more money for schools from a "tight" state budget, yet Kansas can afford questionable ad campaigns?  Why do some Democrats question the $573,747 price tag for the special session of the Kansas Legislature, yet do not criticize members of their own party on ads of questionable effectiveness?  

Earlier this year Sebelius appointee, Scott Allegrucci, head of the Kansas tourism division spent $1.7 million on the new slogan, "Kansas -- As Big as You Think," and the Kansas "image" campaign.  But weren't most of these ads only seen in Kansas?  (Note: Scott Allegrucci is the son of Democrat Kansas Supreme Court Justice Don Allegrucci, and former Sebelius campaign manager and chief of staff, Joyce Allegrucci).

Now another Democrat appointed by Sebelius wants to spend $400,000 on a another questionable campaign.  Chris Biggs held a first press conference as Kansas Securities Commissioner today to announce a $400,000 buy of radio and TV ads to feature --- Chris Biggs!  Biggs issued a press release to "Investigate Before You Invest" in Sept 2003, but now wants to make sure everyone sees this message from media ads.

Here's what WIBW TV is reporting about this on Wedneday:

Securities Fraud
http://www.wibw.com/home/headlines/1667521.html 
The goal of the ad campaign is to bring awareness to the Kansas Securities Office and to get people to check out an investment before they put any money into it.

Last year there were 65 complaints of securities fraud and more than 20 of them were prosecuted.

The campaign's $400,000 price tag is paid for by fines from security law violators.

The commissioner hopes the investment will pay off.

"We're asking that individuals call our office before they invest their money, to check and see if the person who is selling or offering for sale a security, is properly registered with our office and also make sure the offering itself is registered with our office," said Securities Commissioner Chris Biggs.

Some examples of securities frauds are pyramid type schemes, Internet fraud and recently oil and gas investment fraud.

If you'd like to give them a call their number is 1-888-40-SCAM or you can go to their web page dontgetscammed.org.

So 65 complaints last year merits a $400,000 ad campaign this year?  Did Biggs prosecute these fraud complaints?  Didn't special assistant Attorneys General prosecute these cases?  

Should we be grateful that Biggs is only spending this $400,000 and not all of the $4,375,000 from a settlement the state of Kansas received last year due to work by his office?   Should the Kansas Attorney General spend part of the $150,000,000 his office has recovered for Kansas consumers to promote his office?

Because Kansas government receives non-profit ad rates, the ad buy is actually worth close to $1 million in commercial advertising.

Biggs is using the same ad agency he used in his campaign.  He bought the ads shortly after Sebelius vetoed an amendment offered by Arkansas City Republican, Rep. Kasha Kelley, to require a tag line on all government ads that clearly identifies the ads were purchased at taxpayer expense.  

Kelley's proposal would have required ads to say, ''Paid for by your Kansas tax dollars.'' In print and billboard ads, the disclaimer would have to be in type large enough to be read easily.  ArkCity Traveler, July 26, 2005

Biggs claims this is not at taxpayer expense, but rather from fines paid by those who sell securities.  Of course, those funds would normally go to the state's general fund if Biggs didn't buy the ads.  

Many questions remain:  Doesn't Kansas have higher priorities for $400,000 from the state's general fund than to buy ads that blatantly promote the Security Commissioner?  Is this ad campaign a way for Biggs to buy name recognition for a possible election bid next year?  Can Kansas afford the ad campaigns by Democrats in Kansas Government?

By Thursday the press was reporting Republican opposition, such as this WIBW posting:

Republicans Complain About TV Ad
www.wibw.com/home/headlines/1671856.html 

State Securities Commissioner Chris Biggs is the target of Republican criticism for touting a new campaign to warn Kansas consumers to beware of shady investors.

Biggs is a member of Democratic Governor Sebelius' administration. He calls the ads a campaign to protect Kansans. Republicans say it's a shameless political promotion.

The ads are being aired on radio and television statewide to raise awareness of securities fraud. In the TV commercial, a man agonizes over losing his shirt in an illegal investment scheme. Then Biggs urges consumers to call his office before investing.

State GOP Chief Tim Schallenburger says the ads are blatant campaigning at the expense of the state.

Biggs was Geary County prosecutor when he almost defeated Republican Phill Kline in the 2002 attorney general's race.

Notice the media bias in this last sentence of this article.  Many in the press continue to report how narrow the margin of victory was by Attorney General Phill Kline over Chris Biggs in the 2002 election.  But many in the press (most notably, the Topeka Capital Journal) refuse to report easily verifiable facts about why this election was quite unexpectedly close.  Phill Kline was outspent in the election! Yes, Kline spent more money in this race than Chris Biggs, but what about Kline's silent opponent in this race? A certain doctor in Wichita donated nearly $300,000, much of which was laundered through two PACs in the week before the election to buy ads for Biggs. If one adds money from this silent opponent, Kline was outspent in this contest! Not only was Kline outspent by his two combined opponents, but Kline's real opponent, Biggs, was outspent by his Kline's silent opponent.

Kline's silent opponent in Wichita spent at least $299,665 in the 2002 election cycle directly or through his business, plus another $100,000 spent by his business for the Democratic Governor's Association.  It's unclear how this money may have made it back to Sebelius.  Only three major newspapers in Kansas responsibly reported this political money:  the Lawrence Journal World. the Salina Journal, and the Wichita Eagle.  Why is the Topeka Capital Journal afraid of printing the truth about this political money and letting the public decide?

For more information, see:
Tiller's Attempt to Buy the 2002 Race for Kansas Attorney General.

Also see: 

- Analysis: Critics decry Biggs' timing, Topeka Capital Journal
- Republicans complain about TV ad by securities commissioner, Kansas City Star
- State Ads Warn of Investor Scams, Wichita Eagle  [but why doesn't the Eagle write any commentary about this, even on their WE Blog?]


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