There’s an interesting little phenomenon cropping up in Kansas politics: The birth of political action committees that you can’t tell what or whom they are for or against.

For people who follow politics closely — closely enough to wonder who is for or against a candidate — the political action committees that contribute to the campaign are a tipoff of just who the candidate’s friends are.

The whole idea of a political action committee is that it allows people to come together to pool their money to support candidates they believe will support issues the contributors are interested in.

It’s giving campaign money to folks who will help you — and a PAC has the ability to give enough money pooled from its contributors to influence candidates to support the PAC’s interests.

That’s why businesses, doctors, lawyers, unions, homebuilders, nearly every specific interest group has a PAC in Kansas to support its favorite candidates.

Know a candidate’s friends and you know something about the candidate.

Your mother told you, “You know a person by the friends he/she keeps,” or maybe by the friends who give a candidate campaign money.

Well, now comes the tricky part.

Those PACs are required by state law to file reports with the secretary of state’s office that help people find out what the PAC is about, requiring a name that reflects the “trade, profession or primary interest of the committee.”

So, when the Moving Kansas Forward PAC listed its primary interest as “promoting the election of responsible public servants,” the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission wondered whether that tells people anything. Probably not.

Now, Moving Kansas Forward is a good idea, of course. But how do you do that? That’s what has Ethics apprehensive.

If you organized “Mother’s Love” or “Gracefully Balding” or “Cute, But Not Smart” PACs, who gets the money, and what sort of public policy is the PAC trying to encourage? Hmmm …

Yes, there’s a purpose for naming a PAC so you can tell what it is for or against, and even if the name is tricky, somewhere the PAC probably ought to say what it wants elected government officials to do or not do.

A little thing? Maybe, but probably something Ethics ought to figure out a way to manage so we know who’s getting money from whom for what.

Because nobody goes bald gracefully …

Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report. To see about that, visit or call (785) 267-5500.