Fealty to billionaires, Big Oil, GOP trump the truth for Jerry Moran

Jerry Moran seems like a decent guy and always says he is “honored to represent Kansans in the U.S. Senate.”

It’s impossible to imagine him mocking a disabled person or making fun of how someone talks. He did his constitutional duty to certify Joe Biden’s election as president. He promotes and celebrates Kansas businesses and advocates for veterans, medical research and the University of Kansas Health System.

All of that makes it hard to grasp just how dishonest and disastrous the rest of Moran’s record is. When he isn’t outright lying, Moran does his best to hide the truth about such vital issues as protecting the environment and our national security, bolstering the working class, and safeguarding our elections and our freedom to make our own health care decisions. He is no leader, and the Republican colleagues he follows and refuses to criticize or counteract are taking a wrecking ball to the truth and to our republic.

Moran is up for re-election but won’t debate his opponents, and he stonewalls constituents when they ask for explanation or justification of his policy stands. He does not tell the truth when the truth is uncomfortable for supporters of Donald Trump (whose votes he wants) or for the richest Kansan, Charles Koch, and other multi-billionaires whose dark money perverts our politics.

These are strong words, but they are the truth Moran will not touch. Consider:

― Moran touts himself as someone concerned about our nation’s defense, but he speaks with disdain for “the environment/climate agenda,” as if trying to mitigate global warming’s increasingly devastating storms, floods, wildfires and droughts is some political ploy. The U.S. Department of Defense has disagreed with the senator at least since 2004, when it warned the George W. Bush administration that global warming was a greater threat to national security than terrorism. The Pentagon has renewed its warnings across two decades, but Moran refuses to listen. Moran’s dismissal of this grave national security concern, of course, is in line with his fealty to Big Oil and with the Koch family’s well-financed climate change denial efforts, which drew $25 million in Koch money in just three years.

Moran also has been silent, or worse, on the damage to our national security wrought by Trump, who openly sought Russia’s help in his 2016 campaign, greatly weakened our NATO alliance, trashed the treaty checking Iran’s nuclear program, negotiated Afghanistan’s fate with the Taliban, and tried to extort Ukraine’s leader to dishonestly help his 2020 campaign. For all of this damage, along with Trump’s obstruction of congressional investigations, Moran rewarded Trump with a not-guilty verdict in Trump’s first impeachment trial. In doing so, Moran disregarded the testimony of long-serving patriots in our military and foreign services, and he gave Trump the green light to continue the unchecked abuse of power that led to the insurrection of Jan. 6.

― As for protecting the environment, Moran did nothing to push back when Trump dismantled key regulations, but that was no surprise. The senator typically characterizes efforts to safeguard health and save lives by reducing pollution as “burdensome regulations.” His language echoes that of Charles Koch and his late brother, David, whose Koch Industries and related businesses have faced many lawsuits and some high-dollar settlements. The allegations against Koch interests over the years have included fouling the environment, poisoning a town and even abandoning one dying employee who served the company loyally for years while being exposed to a cancer-causing chemical. When the Kochs came under attack in 2014 from then-Sen. Harry Reid, Moran leapt to their defense and asserted that they were well regarded in the business community, as if that’s a defense against reprehensible acts. Moran also neglected to mention that some businesses didn’t hold the Kochs in such high regard, including the companies that helped the government catch Koch Industries stealing oil from federal and Native American lands.

― When it comes to helping working people, Moran also is frequently missing in action. Most Kansans did get some modest relief from the Trump tax cuts, which Moran supported. But that was dwarfed by the legislation’s estimated $1 billion-plus break for the Koch brothers and their interests. The tax cuts also did not provide the jobs that were promised, but they did allow the rich and powerful to become richer and more powerful through massive stock buybacks. Moran further enables and even accelerates the hollowing out of Kansas’ middle class, opposing a higher minimum wage, student debt relief, expanded child tax credits and virtually any other federal measure that would be good for Kansas families.

― Moran also hurts average Kansans by demonizing and sabotaging efforts to catch wealthy tax cheaters, who cost us hundreds of millions of dollar every year. For example, a proposal last year would have given the Internal Revenue Service annual data on the total amounts flowing into and out of checking accounts with more than $600 of activity or assets. Unbiased financial experts noted that this would allow the IRS to do fewer audits but recover more unpaid taxes by focusing on likely cheaters underreporting large incomes. But Moran joined in the right-wing twisting of the proposal, claiming the banks would have to report all checking account transactions of $600 or more, a flagrant lie. “Now the IRS wants to know how you spend that income,” Moran lied on the floor of the U.S. Senate. A 30-second Internet search turns up multiple sites debunking this lie. Moran had zero excuse for propagating that lie, but he did, and the proposal eventually died.

― Moran also has failed to do anything to help working people cope with inflation. The Inflation Reduction Act included provisions to lower prescription drug costs and help millions pay for their health coverage, but Moran voted against it. Similarly, the House has passed a bill to stop gasoline price-gouging, but it has no chance to get through the Senate because Moran and others like him will not go up against the oil companies. Moran is quick to baselessly blame Joe Biden for higher gas prices, never mind the real culprits: U.S. oil companies’ soaring profits and fat-cat stock buybacks, the increased demand that comes with a recovering economy, and Russia’s war against Ukraine.

In fact, to cover for his Big Oil patrons, Moran’s baldest lie of late involves U.S. oil production. The Oct. 10 issue of the senator’s “Kansas Common Sense” newsletter led with this statement: “President Biden’s Energy Agenda Crushed American Energy Production.” I called the senator’s office and pointed out that this is incorrect, as U.S. energy production has been rising during Biden’s term after taking a dive late in the Trump administration. U.S. natural gas production will set a record this year, and rising oil production is expected to set a record next year. How did the senator square those facts with his assertion that American energy production was “crushed” by Biden’s policies? The unlucky staff member who answered my call promised to pass my “opinion” on to the senator. She even called me back a couple of weeks later and we had a long talk about what she had found in her efforts to answer my question. But did she find any evidence that American energy production had been “crushed” by the Biden administration? Of course not, because there is none. Our “nice guy” senator left a beleaguered staff member to try to defend the indefensible, instead of just ’fessing up that his newsletter writer had made a flagrantly false claim.

― As for the integrity of our elections, Moran can’t be bothered to correct the majority of voters in his party, who still think Joe Biden’s clear victory in 2020 was somehow stolen from Donald Trump. At a public forum I attended in July 2021, Moran was asked point-blank to say that Biden had won fair and square, and to deny Trump’s Big Lie that the election somehow was stolen. With Trump supporters in the audience, Moran would not plainly affirm that truth and said only that he had no choice but to do his constitutional duty to certify the electors. He is similarly silent on the scores of Republican candidates in this year’s elections who parrot Trump’s Big Lie, further endangering our republic.

In addition, whenever federal legislation comes up to protect voter rights and our elections, Moran cries “Democrat [sic] power grab,” though the protections his opponents seek routinely are favored by most Americans. Moran also cites the first part of the sentence in the Constitution that says state legislatures get to set election rules, implying that federal protections somehow are unconstitutional. Moran never reads the second half of that sentence: “but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations.” Federal election laws are rooted in crystal clear constitutional language, a fact Moran works hard to conceal.

Of course, none of this should come as a surprise because Moran showed his utter and ultimate lack of concern for election integrity and our democratic republic when he voted to acquit Trump at his second impeachment trial. Moran refused to hold Trump accountable for fomenting an insurrection aimed at violently overturning an election and preventing the peaceful transfer of power. Moran’s incredibly lame excuse? “Establishing the precedent that the Senate has jurisdiction to convict a former president would cause extreme damage to our country and the future of the presidency.” What that “extreme damage” might be remains a mystery, especially given that Trump was impeached while still in office. Is Moran terrified that we’re going to go back and impeach Jimmy Carter? What in heaven’s name is he talking about? Instead, the senator most recklessly helped create a January exception for every future lame duck. As I said, Moran’s excuse was incredibly lame, except that about two weeks after that vote, Trump endorsed Moran’s re-election bid.

― Finally, Moran talks about freedom and small government, but his “pro life” stance means he believes the government should be able to dictate whether women can have an abortion. He applauded the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, made possible by unfit radical judges whose confirmations Moran approved when they came before the Senate.

Moran also was a big supporter of the proposed anti-abortion amendment to the Kansas constitution that voters roundly rejected at the polls in August. The amendment would have cleared the way for the Kansas Legislature to enact a complete abortion ban, bringing such horrors as forced birth for rape victims to our state. Moran contributed $50,000 to the campaign and made a misleading commercial for the ballot issue. After the election, despite his constituents’ clear support for abortion access and medical care for problem pregnancies, Moran added his name to a bill for federal abortion restrictions.

So much for democracy, liberty or the states’ rights Moran often invokes.

Needless to say, I am not honored to be misrepresented in Washington by Jerry Moran.


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