When Colleen Nelson was the editorial manager for the Kansas City Star, she made sure that alternate views (i.e., not agreeing with the Star’s leftist position) were published. But since she left for a promotion in Sacramento, the Star is back to its old ways.
According to emails shared with the Sentinel, the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, Kansas, attempted to get two opinion pieces — one refuting a KC Star editorial entitled: “Kansas GOP leader says unfair flat tax will return. It’s an idea that deserves to die” — and a second discussing a bill which expanded scope of practice for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, commonly called “nurse practitioners.”
Kansas City Star Opinion editor Derek Donovan declined both pieces, stating: “I appreciate the contribution, but we don’t run guest commentaries by reps from any sorts of large lobbying groups, whether they’re think tanks, trade groups or nonprofits. Please find another home for it with my best wishes.”
However, that appears to not be the case, as AFP-Kansas decided to do a little research, and found 15 such guest columns by left-leaning and other non-profit groups just between May 26 and August 9, 2023:
- August 9, 2023, By Larry R. Bradley, leading member of Better Ballot KC: Ranked choice voting can help Kansas City elect candidates who represent the majority
- July 24, 2023, By Logan Stacer, executive artistic director of Heartland Arts KC : Kansas City’s in the spotlight. Why did only 13% of us turn up to vote this election?
- July 19, 2023, By Darvin Bentlage, a member of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Missouri Rural Crisis: 2023 farm bill needs to benefit Missourians who grow our food, not corporations
- July 16, 2023, By Jessica Piper, executive director of the continuing committee Blue Missouri, a former Democratic nominee for Missouri House District 1, a former teacher and a rural mom fighting for public schools. Don’t blame Biden for Missouri’s bad roads and schools. The GOP holds the power here
- July 14, 2023, By Marshall Matz, founder of the World Food Program USA: Bob Dole worked across the aisle to help people around the world. He earned his honors
- July 9, 2023, By Sam Correl, a founder of the FixCleaver.com initiative: Cleaver Boulevard is one of KC’s most dangerous streets. Fix more than its bike lanes
- July 13, 2023, By Cydney E. Millstein, the founder and principal of Architectural & Historical Research LLC: Home fireworks were the worst ever this July 4. Why won’t Kansas City enforce its laws?
- July 2, 2023, By Taylor Holmes, he founder of The Project for Financial Progress: Students don’t want handouts. They want to get state university tuition under control
- June 22, 2023, By Cici Rojas, president of the Latino Coalition, a 501(c)(6) nonprofit that advocates for Hispanic-owned businesses: Hispanics scientists are making lifesaving strides. This drug law could set them back
- June 16, 2023, By Nimrod Chapel Jr., president of the Missouri NAACP: NAACP president: Parson pardon for killer ex-KCPD officer would be Missouri injustice
- June 15, 2023, By Anna Dudenhoeffer Simpson, attorney and co-founder of Lives on the Line, a grassroots nonprofit organization of mothers from Missouri and Kansas dedicated to finding radically bipartisan solutions to gun violence. Missouri and Kansas senators must listen to the clear majority: Ban assault weapons
- June 11, 2023, By Eric Burger, executive director of Shelter KC: A Kansas City Rescue Mission Kansas City can’t fix homelessness with just a free room. Here’s a proactive solution
- June 6, 2023, By Megan Crane & Amy Breihan, co-directors of the Missouri office of the MacArthur Justice Center: Michael Tisius is 3rd youth offender Missouri executed. Other states know that’s wrong
- June 2, 2023, By Janet Milkovich, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Johnson County: Are you outraged by the radicals in the Kansas Legislature, too? Use your voting power
- June 1, 2023, By Jennifer B. Tillman, a member of Missouri Healthcare Professionals for Reproductive Rights: AG Andrew Bailey is keeping Missouri from voting on abortion rights for political gain
- May 26, 2023, By Gary Blackard, president and CEO of Adult & Teen Challenge: This mom found freedom from addiction with help from her faith. You can, too
While some of these organizations say they do not lobby, that’s a distinction without a difference. They may not register as lobbyists, but they certainly attempt to influence lawmakers (not that there is anything wrong with that.) Moreover, the purpose of op-eds by such groups is to influence public opinion — and therefore legislatures — and meets the spirit, if not letter of “lobbying.”
AFP-Kansas Executive Director Elizabeth Patton said this comes down to a double standard with the Star.
“It’s a travesty that the Kansas City Star seems to be applying their standard only to those with whom they disagree,” she said. “Our voice as a grassroots organization who works day in and day out to pass policy to further the American Dream should not be considered invalid or unworthy of publication because we disagree with the editorial board.”
Patton’s organization is not alone in being rejected by the Star. The Sentinel’s parent company, Kansas Policy Institute, gets the same treatment.
“We’re told that the Star and the Wichita Eagle (another McClatchy paper) no longer accept guest columns from organizations,” said CEO Dave Trabert. “But they clearly do so. It’s just an excuse to suppress alternate viewpoints and correct inaccurate statements made by the papers or their guest columnists.”