‘Truth in Politics’ group targets SPS board in political ads

A political attack ad targeting Springfield School Board incumbent Charles Taylor began airing Monday on KY3.

The 30-second ad paid for by Truth In Politics alleges the school district is ‘paralyzed by politics’ and falsely claims Taylor – first elected in 2016 – ‘hijacks meetings so they can push theories again and again critical races”.

The ad juxtaposes austere images of Taylor with sunny images of children, in and out of classrooms, as a voice-over asks, “How does this solve the problem of students’ falling ACT scores from Springfield? It’s not.”

Campaign photos of Steve Makoski and Kelly Byrne – including a photo of Byrne with his wife and two children – are shown as the ad ends by saying, “It’s time to get back to priorities. Elect Kelly Byrne and Steve Makoski. in control. Let’s put kids first for a change.

Taylor, Byrne and Makoski responded to the News-Leader’s request for comment. They are among five candidates – along with Chad Courtney and Brandi VanAntwerp – in the April 5 ballot.

“The ad is materially false. However, that’s not what concerns me the most,” said Taylor, a communications professor at Drury University. “What disappoints me even more is that the campaign, the SPS, our community and our democracy deserve better.”

Responding to the News-Leader, Byrne said the ad was in “very bad taste” and pointed to a statement posted on his Facebook campaign page.

“I just saw an ad supporting me tearing up another candidate. It was not my ad. I was not consulted. This does not represent how I wish to run my campaign. I do not support this ad nor his attempts to slander another candidate with whom I may not always agree, but I believe he is a well-meaning man who volunteers to serve his community,” he wrote on Facebook.

“I do not support the presence of CRT in our schools but I would not make a direct attack on any other candidate.”

Continued: How Springfield School Board candidates view efforts to ban books in schools

Byrne, a real estate investor and developer, noted that if the “paid by” information on an ad doesn’t include his name or the name of his treasurer Tyler Creach, it wasn’t from his campaign.

“I would like to use the News-Leader’s platform to request that the ad be taken off the air,” Byrne said in a follow-up message. “My wife and kids are pictured in the ad and that’s not the example I want to set as a father.”

Makoski, chief compliance officer at Rapid Roberts, said his campaign was not associated with the message.

“I encourage others to stay focused on the true purpose of why I run, to improve the academic success of our children at SPS,” he said.

In interviews, Byrne and Makoski said they believe the controversial critical race theory — a political lightning rod in Springfield and across the United States — is part of diversity and equity training for district employees.

Taylor said, “I don’t believe critical race theory is part of the SPS curriculum, nor do I believe it should be. It’s just not developmentally appropriate.”

the average composite ACT score for the district has declined in recent years, as stated in the policy announcement.

For the year 2019-20, the last before the pandemic disruptions, the score was 19.5 out of a possible 36 with 1,561 seniors taking the college readiness exam. The score five years earlier, with roughly the same number of applicants, was just over 20.8.

Ten years earlier, when only 994 seniors had taken the exam, the ACT score was much higher at 22.9.

The Springfield-based group Truth In Politics, with an address on West Republic Road, is described as a social welfare or 501(c)4 organization.

According to its website, the group was founded by local business leaders who came together to promote accountability in government and hold public servants “accountable for their reckless spending and tax increases”.

The group states that it is “community based and concerned with free market approaches to its success” without “special interests or covert influence”.

The website provides a portal to donate and a way to get involved, but does not list any of its leaders or provide contact information, other than address.

Continued: What to know about the SPS election, candidates and issues ahead of April 5

The Missouri Ethics Commission shows an active Truth In Politics group with the same address. The group last filed a report in 2021, showing spending on billboards and door hangers in favor of candidate Brent Brown, who ran unsuccessfully for Springfield City Council.

The Ethics Commission shows no filings from the group for 2022 or related to the school board race.

There is a phone number with a Washington, D.C. area code listed on the band’s 2021 filing. The number is active but hangs up after a short recording without the possibility of leaving a message asking for a comment.

A year ago, a double-sided flyer was released in support of Brown and two of the 2021 school board candidates – Maryam Mohammadkhani, who was elected and Byrne, who ran last year but didn’t. was not elected – who said he was paid by the Truth Group in politics.

At the time, Royce Reding, who served on U.S. Representative Billy Long’s campaign, was listed as treasurer.

Separately, anonymous text messages targeting two candidates for the 2021 board of directors – Danielle Kincaid, who was elected, and Daniel Ogunyemi, who was not elected – were sent alleging that the two critical theories of race and “drag queen values” were upheld. No “paid by” information was included.

Taylor, who was not re-elected last year, condemned the group’s smear tactics at a meeting in 2021. “We are better than that and Springfield and SPS are certainly much better than that. Shame on whoever sent this.”

The News-Leader reached out to Brian McDonough, President and CEO of KY3, Inc. to learn more about the political ads purchased by Truth In Politics.

The media, in accordance with the rules of public communication, publishes contracts and other details related to political advertising.

Reports show that the Truth In Politics group paid nearly $30,000 to have political ads run in 35 spots, mostly during Ozarks Today and KY3 News, up until Election Day.

Claudette Riley is the News-Leader’s educational reporter. Email news tips to criley@news-leader.com.

Comments are closed.