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Archive for Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Senate committee launches Sebelius records probe

May 3, 2006

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A Senate committee Tuesday voted to launch a records search of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' office and the Kansas Supreme Court for any communications between the two dealing with school finance.

"It's an attempt to get at the bottom of this," said Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, chairman of the Senate Elections and Local Government Committee.

But Democrats on the committee said it was a partisan swipe at Sebelius, who is a Democrat.

"I see this as a personal attack on Governor Sebelius," said Sen. Donald Betts, D-Wichita. "There's a campaign right around the corner."

The dispute is connected to the recent disclosure that Kansas Supreme Court Justice Lawton Nuss discussed the pending school finance lawsuit with Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, and Sen. Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, during a March 1 lunch.

When it became apparent that news of the lunch would be disclosed, Nuss announced he would remove himself from further proceedings in the case, in which the court has ordered increased funding to public schools.

House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka, has launched an investigation, and Chief Justice Kay McFarland has asked the Commission on Judicial Qualifications to investigate the incident. Judges are prohibited from privately discussing pending cases with interested parties.

On Monday, Morris said he had mentioned he had a communication with the court on school finance to Sebelius during a breakfast meeting last month.

But Sebelius did nothing about that, saying she didn't think anything about Morris' comment at the time.

"His comment was offhand and not specific, and at no time did Senator Morris refer to talking to a justice," Sebelius said. "I didn't think much of it at the time because legislators from both sides of the debate have repeatedly made comments claiming to know what the court will or won't accept."

But on Tuesday, Huelskamp said he was seeking records from the governor's office because of Morris' revelation and the fact that Sebelius' former chief of staff, Joyce Allegrucci, is married to a Supreme Court justice, Donald Allegrucci.

Sebelius has denied there has been any communication between her and the court on the school finance litigation.

On a 6-2 partisan vote, the committee said it would file an open records request for any communications among Sebelius, her family, her staff and their families and the Kansas Supreme Court, their families, staff and their families.

In addition to Betts, Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, voted against the records request.

Betts said the controversial communication occurred between Nuss and Morris, and if any open records request is made, it should be made for records kept by legislators.

Comments

xenophonschild 8 years, 8 months ago

Leave Kathleen alone, you vile conservative Republican twits. Go play divisive political games with each other, like the overgrown frat lollipops you are.

Kathleen will win re-election in a landslide, and Kansas is on its way to becoming a "blue" state.

xenophonschild 8 years, 8 months ago

Conservativeman:

Kathleen has done a good job on the state's economy - it was in perilous straits when she took office - and that will ensure her re-election.

Also, I think everyone understands that she's a decent person. Wouldn't be surprised if you voted for her yourself.

BOE 8 years, 8 months ago

Posted by conservativeman:

"Kansas will elect a republican this time. Too many Kansans remember her veto against concealed carry. It is an example of executive tyranny. "

===

Graves, vetoed a concealed-carry bill in '97 and was reelected in '98.

If Bush ever found the courage to veto a spending bill (or any bill), I suppose that would be "executive tyranny" also.

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