The Topeka Capital Journal editorial board warned Kansas gubernatorial candidates they should get on board with Medicaid expansion in a weekend editorial. The editorial fails to mention that a member of its editorial board is a lobbyist for Medicaid expansion.
Jessica Lucas, Topeka Capital-Journal editorial board member, is a registered lobbyist for the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas. The organization’s primary policy goal is expanding KanCare, or Medicaid expansion. If the editorial reads a lot like it was written by a lobbyist, maybe it was?
The editorial lists a few polls suggesting that Kansans want Medicaid expansion.
If these polls didn’t make Kansans’ priorities clear, the crowds of people at the Statehouse should have done so. When lawmakers held hearings on expansion, more than 160 advocates, health care providers, business leaders and concerned citizens testified in favor of providing Medicaid to 150,000 of their fellow Kansans,” it reads.
One poll is one the Capital Journal editorial board all but ignored when it suggested Kansans overwhelmingly preferred that lawmakers to make spending cuts rather than raising taxes.
“Candidates should explain their attitudes toward expanding Medicaid to 150,000 Kansans,” the editorial threatens.
The Capital Journal should explain its attitude on conflicts of interest to its readers. Though each of the paper’s editorial concludes with the names of the editorial board members, what they do isn’t listed. For most editorials, that probably isn’t necessary. However, it’s relevant if the editorial advocates for a position for which one of the board’s members lobbies. That information belongs in the editorial by every measure of journalistic ethics and standards.
The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics says an ethical journalist acts with integrity. That means telling readers when a lobbyist sits on your board–especially in the Capital City, where legislative matters are carefully covered and documented. The code of ethics also says journalists have a special obligation to serve as watch dogs over government. The Capital-Journal failed.
The newspaper should clarify its expansion editorial by noting a member of its board lobbies to promote the same position the editorial advocates. The paper should also apologize to its readers for the egregious lack of transparency and its ethical failure.