TOPEKA Gov. Kathleen Sebelius today denied having any inside information from the Kansas Supreme Court on the school finance lawsuit.
Sebelius issued a statement in the matter concerning Justice Lawton Nuss, who last month removed himself from further proceedings in the school litigation after he disclosed he discussed the case with two lawmakers.
Justice Lawton Nuss
More about Justice Lawton Nuss
- Nuss gets off with warning over school finance talk
- Nuss talks turn political
- Communication between governor's office and Kansas judicial branch (.pdf)
- Code of judicial conduct (.pdf)
- Rules relating to judicial conduct(.pdf)
- Justice Nuss' response to the allegations (.pdf)
- KSGovernor.org: Sebelius responds to wide-ranging open records requests
- Justice Lawton Nuss biography, from Kansas Supreme Court web site
- KSCourts.org: Recusal Statement
- School Finance Proposed Expenditures Comparison (.pdf)
- 6News video: Nuss controversy ends with questionable punishment
- 6News video: Nuss meeting descends to bickering
- 6News video: Committee begins interviews in Nuss affair (06-08-06)
- 6News video: Committee begins investigation into Nuss affair (05-25-06)
- 6News video: Kansas lawmakers determine school finance plan (05-02-06)
- House panel votes to expand Nuss probe (06-09-06)
- Senator from Lawrence declines to testify for now (06-09-06)
- Senator denies court contact before Nuss lunch (06-08-06)
- Nuss says he regrets meeting (06-02-06)
- Supreme Court justices at a glance (08-20-04)
- More about the 'Nuss Fuss'
- More about the school finance case
One of those lawmakers, Senate Pres. Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said that before Nuss revealed that conversation, Morris had mentioned he had communications with the court at a meeting with Sebelius.
Sebelius said she didn't take Morris' comment seriously when he said it because it was an off-hand remark, and legislators often have said they believe they know what the court wants in the long-running legal battle.
In her written statement today, Sebelius said she wanted to clear the air.
"First, I have never had any communication whatsoever with any Supreme Court Justice or anyone associated with the Court about the school finance case or any pending case, period. I never have, and I never would. Nor has any Supreme Court Justice, or anyone associated with the Court, ever had any such communication with me.
"Second, no one has ever given me any inside information about how the court might rule on the school finance case or any other case," she said.
The Nuss communication has become the subject of a House investigation and review by the attorney general's office. Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Kay McFarland has requested an investigation by the Commission on Judicial Qualifications.
Judges are prohibited from privately discussing pending litigation with interested parties.
When Morris said he had mentioned communications with the court to Sebelius, some Republican lawmakers issued requests for records from the governor's office under the Kansas Open Records Act.
Led by Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, the Senate Elections and Local Government Committee filed 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. Other requests have been filed, too.
Huelskamp and some other Republicans have long complained that Justice Donald Allegrucci should have removed himself from the case because he is married to Joyce Allegrucci, who is Sebelius' former chief of staff.
Sebelius said she will comply with the records requests but said some were "inexplicably wide-ranging, even to include communication between me and members of my family."