Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce cancels issues forum after calls of complaint

WICHITA — The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce has canceled a federal issues forum it planned for April 19 in response to complaints from its members and U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt’s office.

“We’ve been well communicated with,” says Sam Williams, chamber chairman.

“It’s a political year, and we didn’t probably pay enough attention to the political ramifications.”

The chamber invited U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran to speak at the forum.

Moran and Tiahrt, both Republicans, are running against each other for U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback’s seat.

Williams says the forum is meant to be a nonpolitical gathering to discuss issues in Washington that affect local businesses.

“We thought this was going to be pretty interesting just because of all the health care stuff going on,” Williams says.

With the pressure that everyone is under these days, though, he says, “Things that maybe in the past wouldn’t have been so important just get overblown.”

The forum will be rescheduled, but neither Moran nor Tiahrt will be at it.

“Bottom line?” says Todd Novascone, Moran’s chief of staff. “As of yesterday or the day before, we are disinvited.”

Regarding Tiahrt’s office, Novascone says, “I don’t want to use the word arrogant . . . but I’ve never seen pressure like that. It just kind of really shocked me.”

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