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Outsiders like Spielberg shouldn’t push money into Kansas elections
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To the editor:

I read news reports where movie producer Steven Spielberg spent $25,000 on the August abortion constitutional issue in its waning weeks. Sadly, Spielberg was not alone with big wads of money tossed into Kansas with the hopes of influencing an election. I don’t care which side of the issue you’re on, this smacks of “outsiders” trying to significantly influence Kansas voters on a major issue which had tricky wording on the ballot.

Some people may say that Spielberg and others were exercising their freedom of speech. I would agree that he and others are free to use their vocal cords or their hands to write their words for the public to hear their 2-cent opinion. However, not everybody has deep financial pockets as do Steven Spielberg and friends. That tactic is lopsided discourse at its worst. This is why we need campaign finance reform.

Again, it doesn’t matter what side of the issue you’re on. It’s a matter of having Kansas chart its own political destiny without Hollywood or New York millionaires imposing their preferences or “their will” in the Sunflower State. To my knowledge, Spielberg and company have no family, no roots, no anchors which tie them to Kansas. He simply threw money at an election; and he wasn’t so concerned about Kansas’ welfare, but hoping he could influence a nationwide trend by the means of his vast campaign cash. That is a pry-bar which very few Kansans have themselves.

An old saying goes: “The proof is in the pudding.” In subsequent weeks, months and even years from now: Look around and see if Steven Spielberg or his mega-dollar donors show up personally in Kansas (or invest in anything else, such as land or buildings or helping small Kansas charitable outlets). You will probably be waiting and waiting ... futilely.

I don’t like to encourage boycotts of any nature. And, I’m not urging any now. But, the next time you consider going to a Steven Spielberg movie: think twice or even three times. It used to be that out-of-state lobbyists were frowned upon. Furthermore, it also used to be that “bribery” was defined as “the offering, promising, giving, accepting or soliciting anything that is an illegal inducement of action which is illegal, unethical or a breach of trust.” Guess what? That is still the definition.  

Spielberg and mega-donor friends may not technically be breaking the letter of the law; but they are surely breaking the spirit of the law. 

It’s the big money leveraging that makes his conduct unseemly. Oftentimes, big money people and big corporations donate big money to curry favor. My only thought is: If the recent referendum were solely Kansas voices, by Kansas voters without the “megaphone” of Hollywood types, it may (or may not) have changed the outcome. Yet, it would have been much more fair if outsider money had been banned from buying the proverbial megaphones.

I believe wholeheartedly in Free Speech; but I also believe that one person who is financially well endowed shouldn’t drown out a thousand other voices.

James  A.  Marples