GOP group’s credit card advanced KS abortion amendment recount


Voters cast their votes at voting machines Tuesday, August 2, 2022 at the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center in Overland Park.

A credit card belonging to the Kansas Republican Assembly was provided to advance a statewide recount of the abortion amendment vote that is expected to cost more than $229,000, Mark said. Gietzen, the group’s president and strident anti-abortion activist.

The amendment, titled Value Them Both, would have removed the right to abortion from the Kansas Constitution. Instead, the measure suffered a landslide 59% to 41% defeat, with 165,000 more voters rejecting the proposal than supporting it.

Melissa Leavitt, of Colby, called for a recount of the vote before the 5 p.m. deadline on Friday. Kansas is requiring a bond for the cost of the recount before it begins, and a crowdfunding page had raised less than $5,000 by Saturday afternoon.

But Gietzen, who is also a director of the Kansas Coalition for Life, said in an interview on Saturday that a credit card for the Kansas Republican Assembly was provided to the office of the Kansas secretary of state. The money has not yet been removed from the card, Gietzen said.

The Kansas Republican Assembly, a far-right group, did not have enough money in its account Friday to cover the cost of a statewide recount, he said. But — between his own personal funds and Leavitt’s online fundraising campaign — Gietzen said he was good for the money.

“If they were to run this (map), I don’t have $200,000 in the KRA account,” Gietzen said. “We will have it covered by Monday. I can personally max out a bunch of credit cards and do whatever it takes.

Although Leavitt called for a manual statewide recount, Gietzen left open the possibility that the recount could be reduced depending on the amount of money ultimately available.

“We’re definitely going to have a recount,” Gietzen said. “I can’t tell you for sure if it will be statewide.”

Whitney Tempel, a spokeswoman for the office of the Kansas secretary of state, told The Star on Friday that Leavitt had posted $200,000 bond. Leavitt, who declined to speak to reporters on Friday, wrote on TikTok on Saturday that “bail has not yet been posted.” Tempel did not respond to a request for clarification on Saturday.

“The next 48 hours will have a lot to do with God intervening in people’s lives,” Leavitt said in a video posted to TikTok on Saturday. “And if it has to happen, it will happen. And if it’s not, it’s not.

People who request a recount get their money back if the election result changes. But if the recount doesn’t change the results, the state pays the money to local jurisdictions to offset the costs.

Gietzen, who said he befriended Leavitt after testifying at the Kansas state house earlier this year, says the results will change enough that he won’t have to post bail.

Gietzen has a long history of anti-abortion activism in Kansas. He helped orchestrate the recruitment of candidates in Sedgwick County during the “Summer of Mercy,” the 1991 protests in Wichita that helped make abortion a top political issue in Kansas. Abortion opponents were then able to take control of the Sedgwick County Republican Party the following year.

Shortly after the amendment was voted on, Gietzen, without offering evidence, raised the possibility of election fraud. In a message last Saturday to supporters of the Kansas Republican Assembly, he called the results “strange” and claimed, incorrectly, that the election was not certifiable “without an examination of what happened. has passed”.

Ahead of the Aug. 2 election, Gietzen, who is based in Wichita, filed a lawsuit in Sedgwick County to try to stop the use of ballot boxes. He had raised concerns that drop boxes were being targeted for voter fraud in the election. Sedgwick County District Court Judge Deborah Hernandez Mitchell dismissed the lawsuit, saying Gietzen lacked standing.

Gietzen is appealing and said he hopes the recount will show discrepancies he can use in his appeal.

Any recount — whether statewide or a subset of counties — is virtually guaranteed to affirm the amendment’s defeat. Any small differences in vote totals that can be found from the recounts are well within the margin of victory of 165,000 votes.

Gietzen argues the recount could help build confidence in future elections and believes it has a one in two chance of changing the election outcome.

“If there was no chance of changing it, you know, then it would be really questionable whether it was a good use of time and money,” Gietzen said.

Judy Thomas of The Star and The Associated Press contributed reporting

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Jonathan Shorman is the Kansas City Star’s senior political reporter, covering Kansas and Missouri politics and government. He previously covered the Kansas Statehouse for The Star and Wichita Eagle. He holds a degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.

Chance Swaim covers investigations for The Wichita Eagle. Her work has been honored with national and local awards, including a George Polk Award for Political Reporting, a Betty Gage Holland Award for Investigative Reporting and a Victor Murdock Award for Excellence in Journalism. More recently, he was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. You can contact him at or follow him on Twitter @byChanceSwaim.

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