If it talks like a duck: Is Greg Orman at the root of fusion voting in United Kansas?

Recently Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab announced United Kansas met the requirements to be officially recognized as a new political party in Kansas. But the new party’s connection to liberal influences formerly pressuring the Kansas Republican Party – and the fact that no one but out-of-state individuals appear to have carried petitions to sanctify it in Kansas – are brewing questions about United Kansas’ real mission.

What individuals or groups might be behind the United Kansas effort and its push for “fusion voting” in Kansas? A review of Kansas’ political history provide several clues, primarly the name Greg Orman, a former Republican and Democrat who ran as an Independent for U.S. Senate in 2014 and for Kansas Governor in 2018. Orman sits on the advisory board of the Center For Ballot Freedom, which advocates fusion voting as a means to overhaul the U.S. system of elections

So-called “moderate” Republican names from yesteryear: Wint Winter, Greg Orman, Dan Watkins, Steve Morris, Sheryl Spalding, and Aaron Estabrook – appear over and over again in the “grassroots” groups below. All of these names appeared together with Orman on the board of the left-leaning Save Kansas Coalition in 2016. Now these same names are part of groups seeking influence in the 2024 election: Center for Ballot Freedom, United Kansas, Kansas Values Institute, Kansans First, Middle of the Road PAC.

How likely is it that Orman is the force behind the United Kansas’ push for fusion voting in Kansas?

Kansas grassroots or progressive shenanigans? 

Orman and a host of “moderate” Republicans, progressives and Democrats have attempted to dilute and dissolve conservative influence in Kansas for more than two decades, conjuring up organizations with misleading names and camouflaged objectives in order to garner support from confused voters . “United Kansas” appears to be the next chapter in this obfuscation. 

Nonprofit Kansas Values Institute spent $23 million to help Gov. Laura Kelly and other candidates in 2022Nonprofit Kansas Values Institute spent $23 million to help Gov. Laura Kelly and other candidates in 2022EARL F GLYNN·MAR 13Read full story
Jan. 2014 Ethics Commission filing. Greg Orman and Aaron Estabrook were the only two named contributors to the Moderate Party of Kansas.
The Save Kansas Coalition had three organizations (the boxes) promoting “moderate” or Republican membership. Other groups were left-leaning progressives. Aaron Estabrook was Executive Director of Save Kansas Coalition. Greg Orman was the president/chair of Save Kansas Coalition and one of two contributors to Moderate Party of Kansas.
View this posting on X. Info from 2016 IRS 990 filing. Note Dan Watkins is President of Kansas Values Institute. Vice Chair Wint Winter appeared in KVI ads in 2018. Aaron Estabrook is the Treasurer of United Kansas Party now. Greg Orman now is on the board of Center for Ballot Freedom (see below). The sources of over $500K in donations in 2016 and over $300K in 2018 have never been discovered.

Pushed by national nonprofits?

Since 2019, Lever for Change, an affiliate of the MacArthur Foundation“launched large-scale, open-call, and transparent competitions” to grant “Stronger Democracy Awards.”

In July 2022 a “Stronger Democracy Award” of $10 million was given to the Center for Ballot Freedom, which appears now to be a fiscally sponsored project of the progressive Tides Foundation

In 2023 the “Tides Foundation/Center for Ballot Freedom” gave somewhere from $250K to $1 million to the left-of-center think tank, New America, which has received other funding from many far-left organizations. 

Other progressive donors to New America include $4.5 million form George Soros’ nonprofits, and $2.6 million from the Democracy Fund. Many associated with New America are former members of the Obama administration

senior fellow at New America, Lee Drutman, is the co-founder of the Center for Ballot Freedom. In Sept. 2022 Drutman published, The Case for Fusion Voting and Multiparty Democracy in America: How to Start Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop.

Sponsors of April 2023 Stanford University conference “focused on the revival and re-legalization of fusion voting.”

An invitation-only conference was held at Stanford University on April 13-14, 2023, “More Parties, Better Parties: Building a Stronger Democracy in America.” A partial list of attendees is shown online.  Conference “memos” are online but require permission to access. So much for transparency!

The conference will bring together a select group of academics and practitioners to explore the value of political parties in democracy, the challenges associated with governing in a two-party system, and possible strategies for reform, focusing on the revival and re-legalization of fusion voting.

The agenda shows several presentations about “fusion voting” with one “Fusion Spotlight” panel discussion.

After the conference Lee Drutman updated his online paper, “More Parties, Better Parties,” on July 3, 2023.  Audiobook.

Former Kansas gubernatorial and US Senate “independent” candidate Greg Orman is an advisor board member of the Center for Ballot Freedom.

Given the direction of the Center for Ballot Freedom and Orman’s past leadership in the Moderate Party of Kansas and the Save Kansas Coalition, how likely is it he the main force brining fusion voting to Kansas through Kansas United?

Greg Orman is on the advisory board of Center for Ballot Freedom that is promoting fusion voting across the country. Is Orman behind United Kansas and fusion voting in Kansas?

Internet echo chamber

@FusionVoting, @UnitedKansas, @ModerateKS, @EstabrookAaron, @protctdemocracy, often echo each other’s X posts with hashtags #FusionVoting, #CountryOverParty, #Democracy, #YouthVote, #ElectionReform, #Elections2024.

X post by Center for Ballot Freedom, likely a fiscally-sponsored project of progressive 501(c)(3) Tides Foundation, pushing the United Kansas Party and fusion voting for Kansas in the 2024 elections.
Lee Drutman, senior fellow at nonprofit New America, and co-founder of Center for Ballot Freedom (likely a fiscally-sponsored project of nonprofit Tides Foundation) promoting United Kansas Party and fusion voting in Kansas.
United Kansas Party treasurer, Aaron Estaboork, appearing in Center for Ballot Freedom X posting on May 16 promoting fusion voting.

Unanswered questions

These individuals and groups have not responded to requests for clarification and additional information for this article:

  • Greg Orman, Center for Ballot Freedom
  • Aaron Estabrook, United Kansas Party
  • Dave Palmer, Center for Ballot Freedom
  • Tides Foundation
I’ve requested additional information for several weeks but there have been no replies. A recently discovered contribution from Tides Foundation/Center for Ballot Freedom to New America suggests Center for Ballot Freedom is a fiscally-sponsored project of the Tides Foundation.
Earl Glynn – Watchdog Lab

Earl F. Glynn is a mostly-retired data scientist, scientific programmer, software engineer and physical scientist living in the Kansas City metro area, and the publisher of the substack Watchdog Lab.