Following the money: Millions spent on Kansas abortion amendment from across the country

Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 4:39 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - When you look at the numbers, it’s clear that people have very strong feelings about the Kansas constitution amendment up for a vote on August 2.

This election has generated more attention — and more money — than any amendment in recent history. Campaign finance reports show about $15 million has been raised to try to convince Kansans to vote one way or the other.

It’s an expensive campaign. You’ve probably seen the tv ads, the direct mail pieces, the yard signs. Voter turnout is forecasted to be as high as 60%. The usual turnout in a primary election is 20-30%.

Organizations doing campaign fundraising must report how much money they’ve taken in, and how much money they’ve spent. More than 30 organizations have filed campaign reports for the election. Our investigative team combed through hundreds of pages in the reports and found some surprises.

According to the reports, those who support the amendment have raised nearly $8 million. Those who want to protect abortion as a right have raised even more —nearly $10 million. These totals are a bit inflated because some groups raise money, report it, but then turn around and donate it to a larger organization—that’s true for both sides.

The playing field evens out when you consider Susan B. Anthony- a pro-life organization- is spending $1.3 million in Kansas. It’s not reflected in campaign finance reports but the organizations

A “no” vote on the amendment means the voter wants to keep abortion rights as part of the Kansas constitution. A “yes” vote means the voter agrees with removing that right from the constitution and letting lawmakers pass legislation on abortion. The amendment does not ban abortion, but it’s likely that conservative lawmakers would place more restrictions on it in Kansas, or ban it entirely.

Campaign finance reports show about $15 million has been raised to try to convince Kansans to...
Campaign finance reports show about $15 million has been raised to try to convince Kansans to vote one way or the other on Amendment 2.(KCTV5)

Where’s the money coming from?

Many contributing to the campaigns don’t live in Kansas. Individuals from across the U.S. have contributed as little as $5, and as much as $1 million, including people from New York, Los Angeles, Little Rock, Seattle, Houston and Washington, D.C,

Organizations have contributed even more. Planned Parenthood of New York donated $850,000 to the Kansas campaign. The Center for Reproductive Rights in New York contributed $125,000. The Sixteen Thirty fund out of Washington, D.C. donated $1,385,000.

The self-branded “Value them Both” campaign has more local donors. The big donor in their fundraising? The Catholic Church. The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas has made numerous donations. The reported total in under two years is almost three million dollars.

“I’m not surprised,” said Greer Donley, an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh Law School. “This vote will be seen as a bellwether — it’s the first state-wide abortion vote since Roe was overturned. The stakes are high for both sides.”

While this amendment was scheduled for a vote long before the high court’s decision, the action increased the urgency. What happens in Kansas is also getting attention because many states surrounding it have either already banned or restricted abortion, or are likely to.

It’s the one thing both sides agree on- all eyes are on Kansas.

“What we want to do is ensure that pro-life Kansans turn out for this ballot incitive vote. Certainly, it’s the first since the Dobbs ruling but it’s not going to be the last,” said Mallory Carroll with Susan B Anthony.

“We have a lot of voters that understand abortion is already heavily regulated in Kansas and they want to protect that right,” said Ashley All with Kansans for Freedom.