Boyda Thrust into Lobbying Spotlight

By: Nick Viviani, Brian Quick
By: Nick Viviani, Brian Quick

Second District Congresswoman Nancy Boyda is receiving attention Thursday after the USA Today published a front page expose on the role of lobbyists in Washington.

The national newspaper listed Boyda in one of two anecdotal examples of lobbyists' influence in the halls of Congress.

The instance involved a half-million dollar earmark the Congresswoman secured for a wastewater treatment facility in Iola. A time line described how the city had secured the services of the prominent lobbying firm Van Scyoc on October 15th, which then hosted a fundraiser for Rep. Boyda on Nov. 1st, according to the USA Today. On Dec. 15th, she celebrated the funding's passage through Congress.

The story goes on to point out how when new lobbying laws were passed in July, she discussed the importance of banning gifts and meals to her constituents.

Boyda pointed out the firm hosting the fundraiser, which the USA Today claims cost the firms PAC $1,203, was working for the benefit of a Kansas town, not a multinational corporation.

The luncheon raised $6,800, according to Boyda, $4,600 of which came from one individual, Richard Zahn, who was raised in the region and had for a long time advocated for the town of Iola. It was he, she said, who hired Van Scyoc after having difficulty bending the ears of the region's representatives.

Zahn visited Boyda in Washington with eleven companions from the Iola Community Involvement Task Force. After welcoming the group and touring the Capitol with them, Zahn first proposed the fundraiser, to which Rep. Boyda claims she initially demurred, claiming she was trying to avoid typical Washington fundraisers.

The Congresswoman added that the luncheon was completely legal and disclosed, using the affair to talk about why she believes transparency means so much in government.

"This is about transparency and when we're talking about transparency. Whether its about earmarks, or its about fundraising," Boyda said. "Ultimately if the people understand what's going on and things are transparent, then we can have a Congress that we can start to have faith in."

Kansas Republicans called the article another embarrassment for Boyda. "Whether she is walking out on military generals or cozying up to Washington lobbyists at fundraisers and then legislating on their behalf, Nancy Boyda is getting noticed for all the wrong reasons," a representative of the party wrote in a brief statement.

Summing up her side of the incident, Boyda further added that "this is ultimately why I advocated for public financing of campaigns.


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