Topeka — State Sen. Kay O'Connor, a leading conservative who has announced her bid for higher office, faces a hearing today for allegedly violating a state ethics law that prohibits fundraising before the end of the legislative session.
O'Connor, R-Olathe, said she did nothing wrong. "I think it's a political thing," O'Connor said Wednesday of the allegation.
The State Governmental Ethics Commission will conduct a hearing at 1:30 p.m. to determine whether O'Connor sent out letters soliciting campaign funds before the official May 20 end of the session. Some of the letters went to lobbyists.
O'Connor concedes she sent the letters but that it was simply a notice to longtime supporters and friends that she was considering running for secretary of state.
She faces a possible $5,000 fine.
Last month, House Speaker Pro Tem Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, was fined $1 for a similar violation. But Merrick said the fundraising letters were sent out before the end of the session by his wife by mistake while he was on a hunting trip in Canada.
Merrick reported the infraction to the commission when he returned from the trip.
O'Connor, who is vice chairwoman of the Senate committee that considers ethics legislation, has been in the Legislature since 1993.
She garnered national attention in 2001 for her remarks about the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1920, which gave women the right to vote. She said the amendment was a sign that men weren't taking care of women well enough.