Topeka A former deputy aging secretary is challenging a $500 fine imposed by the state ethics commission for violating a conflict of interest law.
Terry Glasscock hopes to overturn the April order from the Governmental Ethics Commission.
Lapse of Ethics?Was Terry Glasscock working under a contract or a grant with the state Department on Aging after he left its employ?The distinction will determine whether the former deputy secretary on aging will have to pay a $500 fine levied by the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission for violation of state law.
The case involved a $135,000, no-bid agreement for a "re-engineering" study of the Department on Aging awarded to Glasscock soon after he left the agency in May 1999 and moved to Massachusetts.
The commission concluded Glasscock had helped write the consulting arrangement for himself while still with the agency. It said he violated a law that says state employees cannot be "substantially involved in the preparation" or "participate in the making" of a contract for their benefit or the benefit of a family member.
Glasscock contends that he was awarded a grant to conduct the study, not a contract. The distinction is important because the conflict of interest law applies specifically to state contracts.
Glasscock filed his appeal Wednesday in Shawnee County District Court.
"We respectfully disagree with the commission," said James Wyrsch, a Kansas City, Mo., attorney who represents Glasscock. "We believe they misinterpreted the law as it applied to the facts in this case."
But Vera Gannaway, the ethics commission's chief attorney, said Thursday the April order was based on solid evidence.
"I think the facts are very clear and speak for themselves," Gannaway said. "The commission made a unanimous decision."
Personal notes obtained by the commission that were written by the Department on Aging's chief counsel revealed that then-Secretary Thelma Hunter Gordon was warned that the terms of her arrangement with Glasscock would be questioned.
Gordon resigned in November when details about the arrangement and her out-of-state travel were detailed by the Lawrence Journal-World.
Gov. Bill Graves later canceled the agreement and forced Glasscock to return $90,000 of his consulting fee. Secretary of Administration Dan Stanley said the arrangement amounted to a contract rather than a grant.
Terry Glasscock is the brother of House Majority Leader Kent Glasscock, R-Manhattan, considered a possible candidate to succeed Graves as governor in 2002. Kent Glasscock's wife, Joyce, is Graves' chief of staff.
Kent Glasscock, who is running for House speaker, said he didn't know the details of the arrangement and has supported investigations into the matter.
The ethics commission has 20 days to file a written response to Glasscock's appeal. A judge will then decide whether to issue a ruling based on the filings or schedule a hearing.