GOP chairman comes out swinging

Shallenburger accuses Sebelius' running mate of benefiting from legislation

Christian Morgan, left, confers with Jim Barnett, Republican candidate for Kansas governor, as they respond to questions posed by readers. Morgan, campaign manager for Barnett, typed Barnett's dictated responses during a chat Monday at the News Center, 645 N.H. To read a transcript of the chat, go to

? Unhappy with media coverage of the governor’s race, Kansas Republican Party Chairman Tim Shallenburger on Monday accused Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ running mate, Mark Parkinson, of benefiting from legislation.

Parkinson, a former legislator, denied the charge and called Shallenburger’s broadside “just the nature of politics.”

Joe Aistrup, head of the political science department at Kansas State University, said Shallenburger’s remarks showed that he was getting frustrated by poll numbers that show Sebelius ahead of Republican nominee Jim Barnett.

“He’s got to be feeling right now that he’s grasping at straws,” Aistrup said. A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows Sebelius leading Barnett 48 percent to 39 percent.

Shallenburger said he was frustrated by the media not digging into Parkinson, a former state Republican Party chairman who recently switched to the Democratic Party to run as Sebelius’ lieutenant governor.

Shallenburger said Parkinson had shepherded legislation in 1993 that helped promote the development of assisted living centers. Later, a company formed by Parkinson to build nursing and assisted living facilities, sold for $29 million.

“I think that is why he introduced legislation: to make himself $29 million,” Shallenburger said.

He also said Parkinson’s law office made $800,000 in legal fees during Sebelius’ administration.

Parkinson said Monday that in 1993 he voted for a bill that helped develop assisted living facilities. He said he wasn’t the sponsor of the bill, nor did he help move its passage through the Legislature.

Three years later, after he left the Legislature, Parkinson said he got into the nursing home and assisted living business.

As far as legal fees from the Sebelius administration, Parkinson said he never benefited because he left his law firm in 1999, three years before Sebelius was elected governor in 2002.

“I had no partnership interest and received no money from the state during the time the governor has been in office,” he said.