Mailer on abortion, top Kansas court described as deceptive

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A mailer to voters across Kansas suggests removing state Supreme Court justices in Tuesday's election would protect access to abortion, when abortion rights advocates want to keep them on the bench.

The mailer's return address says it is from KMCF Inc., of Lenexa, a Kansas City suburb. For a brief time in October, that was the legal name of a charitable foundation run by a prominent Republican direct mail firm's owner, state records show.

One side says “Kansans pushed back” against the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in late June to overturn Roe v. Wade. Voters in August decisively rejected a proposed anti-abortion amendment to the Kansas Constitution. The mailer includes the logo of the pro-amendment side with a red “X” through it.

The mailer's opposite side urges no votes Tuesday on retaining state Supreme Court justices. Six of the seven justices are on the ballot for yes-or-no votes on whether they stay on the bench another six years.

“LET THEM HEAR YOU AGAIN!” the mailer says under a bigger “NO!”

Abortion rights groups want to retain the justices, and Kansans for Life, the state's most influential anti-abortion group, wants to oust five of the six. The court in 2019 ruled that access to abortion is a “fundamental” right under the Kansas Constitution, spurring GOP legislators to push the proposed anti-abortion amendment.

“It's clearly designed to misinform,” said state Rep. Stephanie Clayton, a Kansas City-area Democrat, whose daughter was sent a mailer.

An online state records search for VMCF brought up documents for the nonprofit Van Meteren Charitable Foundation Inc. and showed that it switched from the longer name to the shorter one on Oct. 24 and back on Oct. 31.

Its 2021 annual report listed the same address as the return address on the mailer. Its only officer was Kristian Van Meteren, who owns the The Singularis Group direct mail firm, also in the Kansas City area. He did not immediately return telephone messages Friday seeking comment.

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John Hanna, The Associated Press