OSAGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts is getting help in his Republican primary race from a political action committee representing tea party challenger Milton Wolf’s fellow radiologists, and the group’s director said Tuesday that it would be “hard to rally around” Wolf because of his past postings of graphic X-ray images on Facebook.
The American College of Radiology Association PAC disclosed to federal regulators that it spent nearly $43,000 last week on mailings supporting Roberts in his bid for a fourth six-year term. PAC Director Ted Burnes said the mailings, praising Roberts, started this week and are going to prospective voters statewide ahead of the Aug. 5 election.
Roberts executive campaign manager Leroy Towns said the group’s support for the senators show that medical professionals are troubled by Wolf’s past Facebook postings and news reports that Kansas’ medical board is investigating them. Wolf, who apologized publicly for the postings months ago, said during a campaign stop in Osage City that the radiologist group’s activities demonstrate that it is like other PACs.
“That’s Washington,” Wolf said during a lunch for supporters. “And most PACs that are in Washington exist to keep themselves in existence and to keep incumbents in office.”
The PAC’s spending is dwarfed by the candidates’ and outside groups’ spending on radio and television advertising, but it drew notice because Wolf, a Leawood radiologist, stresses his work as a physician while campaigning. A slogan, “I’m a doctor, not a politician,” is emblazoned on the front of his campaign tour bus.
Burnes said the PAC is supporting Roberts because it views him as approachable and willing to discuss issues. Also, Burnes said the group believes that Roberts will be more effective in the Senate. Wolf has compared himself to a tea party favorite there, Texas Republican Ted Cruz.
“If he comes to DC, he’s not really coming as a radiologist or a doctor. He’s coming as, ‘I want to be Ted Cruz; I’m kind of tea party, no-for-everything,'” Burnes said. “The way the Senate works, that’s just not productive.”
But Wolf said PACs in Washington are naturally going to help incumbents.
“That’s what PACs do, which is one of the reasons we need term limits,” Wolf said. “And we need to drain the swamp in Washington.”
Burnes said the PAC would have supported Roberts, even without the questions about Wolf’s Facebook postings but added, “Does it make it easier for us to support Pat? Absolutely.”
“They’re really bad for the profession, as far as appearance,” Burnes said. “It’s hard to rally around someone when those things happen.”
Wolf has acknowledged that in 2010, he posted images of fatal gunshot wounds and other serious medical injuries on a now-disabled Facebook page, along with dark-humor commentary.
Towns said, “It’s a disqualifying issue for him.”
Wolf told supporters Tuesday that he never violated patients’ privacy, as Roberts’ television and radio ads have said repeatedly.
Several Osage City-area residents who met Tuesday with Wolf said they’re upset by the Roberts spots. The ads highlight the Facebook postings and declare that Wolf faces “serious ethical questions” and is “not trusted.”
“That’s just over the top,” said Frances Summers, a retired legal secretary from Vassar who said she’s active in the community and local Republican politics. “That’s just ridiculous.”