Shortly after my husband was elected mayor of Kansas City, Mo, a top-level campaign worker relayed a conversation that he overheard between two members of the Establishment that took place inside a popular Kansas City BBQ eatery. It went something like this:
I am going to make Mark Funkhouser’s life a living hell.
And they did.
The Establishment, used to controlling Kansas City’s money, agenda and elections, didn’t think it possible for my husband to win the office of mayor. Under that supposition, it ignored “the little campaign that could,” and was too late noticing that our campaign had steam. Funk won the election.
To get even, its members worked behind the scenes scheming up ways to discredit my husband’s administration and regain control. These are not stupid people. With more time on their hands than ever before, they set about fabricating one scandal after another, and then pitched the stories to the local media. And the media? Well, real or concocted, controversy sells, and these stories sold like crazy.
When the early scandals weren’t enough to drive down my husband’s approval rating, the Establishment kept fishing until it found something that would stick. When it became clear that as my husband’s campaign manager I would do what most campaign managers did after a win and continue advising my candidate in his new capacity, the Establishment found the pot of gold it desperately sought.
A campaign manager-turned-paid-political-advisor is palatable with citizens, but a wife as first lady, and as her husband’s voluntary advisor – no way! After finding their mark, an onslaught of tabloid-like stories came out, featuring me – or at least, a caricature of me.
When it then became clear that my husband and I made a formidable team, and that neither of us would ever consider backing down in the face of wrong (even with me being a chickenshit at heart) the Establishment upped the stakes. Instead of pitching only to local media, it tried stopping us by going national. Hoping to embarrass both the city and us, it obtained my family’s personal Christmas newsletter and had a field day with it.
Our 2007 private newsletter was similar to those previously sent to 375 friends and family. Yet because of our new lot in life, I had pared that year’s list down to the 125 people I felt were most trustworthy. One of them wasn’t. Approached by the Establishment, our “friend” handed over our newsletter, which was shopped to national media organizations, with Harper’s Magazine biting.
And that’s how I became an unintentional published author.
When my books hit, it will be, in large part, because of the raw material provided by my husband’s adversaries. Now there’s a healthy serving of Say What! for the other side!