If the criticism by the Colyer campaign is accurate, the ACLU has fully betrayed its mission, not only by meddling in the Kansas gubernatorial race but also by doing so deceptively.
At the center of the controversy is a mailer sent by the ACLU, presumably to likely Republican voters. “It’s a pro-Colyer ad, anti-Kobach ad,” said gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach. “In my entire life, I have never heard of the ACLU advertising on behalf of a Republican candidate for anything.”
“ACLU spokesman Mark McCormick confirmed that the ACLU had sent out the flier,” reported the Wichita Eagle, “but he emphasized that the organization does not support candidates.”
“We support civil liberties and civil rights and want voters to be well informed on these issues,” McCormick told the Eagle in an email. The mailer, however, makes Kobach’s point much better than it does McCormick’s.
The mailer clearly gives the impression that from the ACLU’s perspective Colyer would be the less objectionable of the two candidates. Unlike Kobach, Colyer “supported a bipartisan education package” and backed efforts to make government records more accessible.
The fact that spending more money on public education is now seen by the ACLU as a “civil liberty” reveals the double game the ACLU is likely playing here. On real civil liberty issues, Kobach and Colyer have comparable positions. By throwing in the most significant item of contention between the two candidates and passing it off a civil liberty, the ACLU tips its hand.
The Colyer campaign believes, perhaps correctly, that the mailer is something of an ACLU “dirty trick” designed to boost Kobach’s campaign, thinking he would be an easier candidate for the Democrats to beat in November.
Kobach and Colyer both have reason to be upset with this mailer. The major media need to hold the ACLU accountable. If the NRA sent a mailer boosting a candidate in a Democratic primary, the media would have no trouble deciphering the NRA’s motives.