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Campaign Finance Reports: Jim McMullen spent over $45K of his OWN MONEY on the election

Updated: Sep 16, 2023

This article was originally posted 12/12/2021 on SUBV Facebook page

Every district patron should be aware of the Blue Valley Board of Education campaign finance reports, posted yesterday on the Johnson County Election website.

Jim McMullen (who won the Position 6 seat by 51 votes) filed reports stating that he spent $45,050 of his OWN MONEY on the election for this volunteer (i.e. NONpaying) position. McMullen’s total campaign expenditures were almost $51K - unprecedented for a Blue Valley School Board seat. He reported donations from 48 individuals other than himself.

Lindsay Weiss, who SUBV endorsed for the Position 6 seat, reported campaign expenditures of almost $12,000, $1,870 of which she contributed herself. Weiss had 78 individuals donate to her campaign.

In the Position 5 election, winner Gina Knapp spent about $12.5K, none of her own money. 59 individual donors were recorded.

Position 5 candidate Christine White’s finance report is 18 pages of nearly undecipherable handwritten notes but - from what we can make out - White spent $9,166 on her campaign. Almost half of that ($4453) was funded on her own credit card (per her notes). From what we can tell, White had donations from 85 individuals, but she wrote that she returned some of them.

Position 4 winner Kaety (Kaitlin) Bowers reported total expenses of $7,815, and personal donations from herself to her campaign of $2,350. Bowers’ report lists 50 individuals who made donations.

Position 4 candidate Andrew Van Der Laan’s report showed total expenditures of $10,162. His report started with a loan from the candidate but he finished the period with cash on hand to cover that amount, so we did not consider that loan a campaign donation. He reported 58 individual donations.

So...we have questions for our members: Do you think School Board candidates should be required to file periodic campaign finance reports in the weeks leading up to the election, like candidates for legislative seats? Would it matter to you to know before you cast your vote that one candidate had spent over $41,000 of his OWN money by 8 days prior to election day - money that would have been reported and available to the public if the election followed the same campaign finance rules as the Kansas Legislature?

WHY? Why in the world would a candidate for our Blue Valley Board of Education - an UNpaid position - spend so much of his own money to try to get elected? Should School Board candidates be subject to campaign donation restrictions from individuals and businesses - like other elected offices are? Should a School Board candidate be legally allowed to self-fund their campaign over a certain dollar amount?

If ever there was a time to lobby our state legislators to impose greater transparency and campaign finance restrictions state-wide on School Board elections, that time is now.

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