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Archive for Friday, July 14, 2000

Representative gets backing without AG

July 14, 2000

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— She may have alienated the attorney general, but state Rep. Susan Wagle has other political friends in statewide office supporting her campaign for the Kansas Senate.

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback announced Wednesday that he is endorsing Wagle, who is seeking the Republican nomination in the 30th District in Wichita.

Wagle also received the endorsement of State Treasurer Tim Shallenburger.

Their announcements came less than a week after Atty. Gen. Carla Stovall played host at a campaign event for Wagle's opponent in the Aug. 1 GOP primary, Roberta Feist. She is chief executive officer of Feist Publications Inc.

Wagle's campaign also released a list of Wichita business leaders who are endorsing her candidacy.

The 30th District seat is open because the incumbent, Barbara Lawrence, also a Republican, is not seeking re-election. Lawrence has endorsed Wagle as well.

Stovall is a moderate Republican, and Brownback, Shallenburger and Wagle are conservatives.

Feist also has received the endorsement of Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh, another moderate.

However, Stovall has another reason besides political philosophy to support Feist. Wagle led a legislative investigation into Stovall's hiring of her former law firm to represent Kansas in lawsuits against large tobacco companies.

Wagle, of Wichita, is chairwoman of the House Taxation Committee. In February, it had four days of hearings into Stovall's 1996 decision to hire Entz and Chanay, the Topeka firm for which Stovall worked before being elected attorney general in 1994.

Entz and Chanay stands to receive $27 million in legal fees from a settlement of lawsuits by 46 states against tobacco companies. Kansas expects to receive nearly $1.77 billion from the settlement throughout 25 years.

Stovall has said Entz and Chanay's fees are small compared to the total amount of settlement funds and has defended her decision as a good deal for taxpayers. Wagle and other critics see it as an example of patronage, and legislators enacted a law designed to restrict state agency contracts with attorneys.

When announcing his endorsement of Wagle, Brownback described her as an old friend and a strong fiscal conservative. Shallenburger, a former House speaker, noted he served eight years in the Legislature with Wagle before he was elected treasurer in 1998.

Neither Brownback nor Shallenburger mentioned Stovall in their statements. Stovall declined comment through spokeswoman Mary Tritsch.

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