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‘Columnist’ is lobbyist in disguise
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To the editor:

The Aug. 10, Great Bend Tribune contained this very notable statement at the end of an Opinion page piece by Dave Trabert: “Dave Trabert is a columnist for The Sentinel.” 

The Sentinel is not a newspaper. The Sentinel is a website that focuses on criticism of our government and independent newspapers. It does not focus any criticism on political lobbyists or dark money funded political propaganda platforms. Dave Trabert is a political lobbyist and CEO of the Kansas Policy Institute, a dark money funded political propaganda platform. The KPI owns The Sentinel. 

Trabert’s opinion piece was a criticism of the Blue Valley school district. That we in Barton County, were presented a 970-word criticism of a Johnson County school district, by the CEO of one the most politically powerful lobbying organizations in the state, in our home county newspaper, shows how widespread the KPI’s propaganda messaging has become. 

Public education is the largest expense in the state general fund. For special interest political lobbying groups who want to pay less tax, limiting public education funds is the largest opportunity to achieve their goal. 

But we support our schools and want them to succeed. Not because we agree with everything they do, but because they are our schools. Particularly in our smaller communities, they are staffed and operated by our fellow community members that we know and elect to run them. This willingness to support and pay for our local schools diminishes the political power of special interests who want to keep more of their tax dollars for their own use.

Lobbyists like Trabert and propaganda platforms like the KPI gain political power for themselves if they can diminish or erase our loyalty to our local schools. In the largest sense, Trabert is not a columnist. He is a professional propagandist. The Sentinel is not a representation of journalism, it is a device to promote an agenda. The KPI is not a “think tank.” It is a false front that uses the false front of The Sentinel that uses the false front of depicting Trabert as a columnist for the moneyed individuals that fund the KPI to empower themselves and achieve their goal of paying less tax.

The first rule of journalism is to follow the money. As it turns out, the KPI is a major supporter of the proposed flat tax. Analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy predicted 49% of the individual income tax reduction would go to the richest 20% of Kansans. The bottom 20% of earners would receive 4.1% of the reduction. The top 1% of Kansas wage earners would see an average tax cut of $11,510, while the bottom 20% would receive a $192 cut. 

An opinion page column by the KPI is not some laudable effort to publish an alternate opinion. It is implying a false legitimacy to one of the most prolific deceive-by-omission dark money funded political propaganda organizations in the state.

John Sturn