Archive for Friday, July 22, 2005

House Speaker fined $1 for ethics violation

July 22, 2005

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— House Speaker Pro Tem Ray Merrick was fined $1 Thursday for violating a state ethics law prohibiting fundraising before the end of the legislative session.

Merrick, R-Stilwell, told the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission that invitations for a June 13 event were mailed about a week before the May 20 ceremony ending the 2005 session. State law prohibits legislators from soliciting contributions from lobbyists during the session.

Merrick told commissioners that he was bear hunting in British Columbia when his wife sent the mailings out, trying to save Merrick the trouble of mailing them when he returned from his trip. The list included personal friends and lobbyists.

"It was a mistake on my wife's part. She tried to help me out, and she overdid herself," Merrick said.

Merrick reported the infraction to the commission once he returned from Canada.

Commissioners deliberated for 10 minutes before fining Merrick. They noted that he reported the violation to the commission and cooperated with the investigation. Merrick paid the fine after the meeting.

The maximum fine for soliciting donations from lobbyists during legislative session is $5,000.

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