It would seem, with key legislative issues remaining to be resolved, that members of the Kansas Senate would have better ways to spend their time than engaging in political fishing expeditions.
Although both the state's Commission on Judicial Qualifications and the Kansas House have launched investigations into communication between Supreme Court Justice Lawton Nuss and two legislators over lunch on March 1, the Senate now thinks another probe is justified. Although there is no evidence of improper communication between Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' office and members of the court, a Senate committee voted Tuesday to file an open records request to obtain all communications between the governor, her family and her staff and the court justices, their families and their staffs.
It would serve the senators right if it was found that no such communications existed.
Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, and chairman of the Senate Elections and Local Government Committee, said the action was justified by the fact that Sebelius' former chief of staff, Joyce Allegrucci, is married to Supreme Court Justice Donald Allegrucci. Never mind that Joyce Allegrucci left her position in the governor's office in July, well ahead of the latest controversy.
Rather than rushing to judgment, GOP leaders in the House and Senate might be better off allowing this matter to work its way through the Commission on Judicial Qualifications, which is the proper body to handle the investigation and any discipline it determines is warranted.
Playing this issue for political gain actually may backfire on Republicans. Although most legal observers seem to agree that Nuss and the legislators made a mistake, many voters probably don't understand why it's wrong to pursue communications that could help settle the troublesome school finance issue.
The key word here, however, is "communications." If reports indicating that detailed financial spreadsheets relative to school financing were studied by the judge and lawmakers are accurate, it may have been more than a casual visit.
The Kansas House and Senate now are a week into their so-called wrap-up session and have made little if any progress toward reaching agreement on a school funding plan. Legislators need to set aside distractions and political posturing and give their full attention to the important business at hand.