Archive for Wednesday, May 7, 2008

House speaker alleges improper use of plane trips by governor

May 7, 2008


In Kansas politics, the state plane used by the governor can be an asset or a liability.

House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, recently accused Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of getting people to vote against the coal-fired power project by flying them to Kansas University basketball games.

"The governor, who knows what she did to get some of these people?" Neufeld said in a brief meeting with reporters after the House failed Thursday to override Sebelius' veto of a bill authorizing construction of the two 700-megawatt plants in southwest Kansas.

"We know, for example, that the governor took some people to the NCAA Tournament and they voted no after that trip," he said.

Sebelius and legislators who were on the flights deny Neufeld's allegation.

"I've been very disappointed in him alleging somehow that legislators are being bribed," Sebelius said.

"I have consistently throughout my term in office tried to attend a whole variety of activities and events that highlight Kansas kids and Kansas schools.

"In every occasion, I try to fill the plane with whoever is a supporter of that school, whoever is around, and I just find it very offensive that he would choose to somehow allege that people who wanted to come to a KU basketball game were being bribed," Sebelius said.

Here's who traveled and when:

¢ On April 5, Sens. Duane Umbarger, R-Thayer, and John Vratil, R-Leawood, and state Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, flew to San Antonio for the Final Four and returned April 8.

¢ On March 30, Sens. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, and David Wysong, R-Mission Hills, flew back and forth to Detroit for the KU-Davidson game. On the return trip, state Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, was on board.

¢ On March 28, Reps. Annie Kuether, D-Topeka, Terrie Huntington, R-Fairway, and Julie Menghini, D-Pittsburg, traveled to Detroit for the KU game against Villanova.

¢ On March 22, state Rep. Sydney Carlin, D-Manhattan, and Davis flew with Sebelius to Omaha for the KU game against UNLV and Kansas State University game against Wisconsin.

Umbarger and Vratil have consistently voted to approve the coal-fired project and to override Sebelius. Francisco, Kelly, Wysong, Ballard, Carlin, Davis, Huntington, Kuether and Menghini have sided with Sebelius.

Davis said he presumed he was invited to go with Sebelius because he is a big KU fan and the school is in his legislative district.

"Vratil and Umbarger were on the plane, and both have been supporters of the coal plant and have never indicated that they have wavered in their support for that," Davis said.

He said there was no discussion about the issue during the trip.

"This is just a crazy accusation that the speaker has made. There is no basis for it, and he is trying to create a diversion," he said.

Francisco also said there was no discussion about it during the trip she took with Sebelius.

"I talked with her (Sebelius) quite a bit about nutrition and health care and my interest in increasing the amount of money we spend on school lunches," Francisco said.


Evan Ridenour 10 years ago

What is ironic about this is he made public statements that almost came out and said he was going to bribe other legislatures to get the votes he needed to override the veto.

deskboy04 10 years ago

She didn't offer to take me on the trip. I am a KU fan. I guess that she considers this to be a perk of being an elected official. Forget the coal plant issue...doesn't this bother people?

Tony Kisner 10 years ago

Let's vote the Gov out of office. Hold it, she can't re-run. OK, Kathy, I would head to the south of France to see if they don't want to buy some wheat or beef.Can't run for Gov again, try doing some heavy lifting for national party (no coal plants) maybe get a cabinet post. Now it is time to bring what is Kathy's unto Kathy.

dirkleisure 10 years ago

Seriously - look at the House members you are accusing. Is it truly your claim there are House members who turned down a flight to an NCAA tournament game because they were a "Yes" on coal?Name one. Go ahead.I'll name one who didn't turn down flights - Rep. Melvin Neufeld. I guess since he doesn't fly to KU or K-State athletics events in March, that doesn't count.

Keith 10 years ago

So speaker Neufeld, no stranger to arm twisting to get his way, complains that the governor may employ similar though less nasty tactics to get hers. "From Topeka Capital Journal, 5 Dec 2006, by Tim Carpenter: Neufeld dismissed the relevance of his role in a 1994 scandal in which he was accused of blackmailing a fellow legislator on a House vote by placing a telephone call to the legislator's wife to share rumors of sexual misconduct.Neufeld wasn't taken to trial on blackmail charges because the Kansas Supreme Court determined lawmakers had wide latitude in terms of what they can say regarding other legislators."

ralphralph 10 years ago

Forget the bribe vs. no-bribe deal. WTF is Queen Kathy doing flying Taxpayer One to basketball games that most Taxpayers couldn't afford a ticket to see?Limousine Liberal, anyone?Farging elitist swine!Leggo my wallet!

deskboy04 10 years ago

LivingTheDream has all of the "inside information".

JerryStubbs 10 years ago

DId any one of them change their vote after the trip?

deskboy04 10 years ago

I don't think that we should pay for these kind of trips.

notajayhawk 10 years ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says: >>>"He said there was no discussion about the issue during the trip.""Yeah, right."And would there even have had to be? That's like saying it's okay for a lobbyist to buy a legislator a new car, as long as they don't talk about the bill the lobbyist's pushing while at the dealership.I seem to recall some folks saying that contractors who bought SuperBowl tickets for Pentagon procurement officials constituted "profiteering." Wonder why this is different, that this isn't an improper gift to gain influence.I also wonder why this story appeared in the KC Star several days ago and just made it to the award-winning LJW. They must have a slower AP wire.

jafs 10 years ago

While this may not be as big an issue as Neufeld wants to make it, I find all of the "perks" that elected officials get and offer to others to be disturbing.As far as I'm concerned, elected officials are public servants, and should be treated as such. They should make a modest, decent wage and that's it.There should be laws against contributions of all kinds, from all groups, individuals, etc. whether campaign or otherwise.This is the only way to remove the corrupting influence of money from the political arena.

Godot 10 years ago

At least Sebelius does not believe in letting her taxpayer owned private plane go EmT. I just did not realize that use of the private plane to go to athletic events was part of the deal.I suppose the tickets to the event were taxpayer (or lobbyist) paid, as were the meals and lodging.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years ago

ralphralph (Anonymous) says:Forget the bribe vs. no-bribe deal. WTF is Queen Kathy doing flying Taxpayer One to basketball games that most Taxpayers couldn't afford a ticket to see?Limousine Liberal, anyone?Farging elitist swine!Leggo my wallet!I believe all the governors have done this. Talk to your reps if you don't want governors to do this.

Scott Tichenor 10 years ago

Ah, he might be onto something here. So, all those Democrats were FOR the coal plants before the flight, and AGAINST them after? Riiiiggghhtttttt.That's a phony charge. Here's a real one: Neufeld's wallet is filled with money from the company trying to build those plants. Get real. This shouldn't even be news. This is grocery store tabloid crap.

WilburM 10 years ago

Neufeld has been a complete disaster for House Republicans. He has taken a huge majority and done absolutely nothing with it. Indeed, Sebelius, with minimal support in the Senate and just over a third of the House in Democratic hands, has run circles around him. Look for Melvin to be gone as Speaker in '09. But wait, House Republicans revel in being self-destructive.

kansasethics 10 years ago

In politics, timing is everything.What the articles leave out, is that the day these "trips" were being offered around by the Governor, was the very day the House was to vote on an over-ride on the coal plants. And the Governor was working the phones hard. Very hard. Continually. So, in the natural nature of things, she visited with legislators simultaneously about both of these items. (coal plants - KU basketball) This was generally known among a wide circle of Legislators that day. It isn't just Mr. Neufeld making stuff up. He is the only one with guts to blow the whistle.Sometimes the "offer" of a free trip has the same benefits as a "free trip actually taken." This writer would be interested in how many people were 'offered' a ride who had the good sense to decline. Of course, these legislators are not going to stand up and shout to us "she asked me too!."This writer would also like to know the policy and role of the University in this incident. Could any legislator obtain a ticket to the Final 4? Did the University fly legislators? Did either of these violate state ethics laws?The State Ethics law prohibits state employees from receiving a meal in most instances. How can trips and tickets to a Final 4 game possibly be legal? And if currently legal, should they remain so?

janeyb 10 years ago

If Neufeld was governor his butt would have been on a plane going to the game with all his GOP friends. What is Neufeld going to get out of these coal plants? There is something big in it for him.

dirkleisure 10 years ago

I encourage you to contact Sen. David Wysong about these claims.

Confrontation 10 years ago

Complain all you want, but I was very happy to see Sebelius at these games. Plus, I also loved that she said that KU fans are the the best fans in the state. Sucks to be a K-Suck fan, doesn't it?

LivingTheDream 10 years ago

I have it on very good knowledge that the people that rode on the plane paid for their own tickets, lodging, and meals. However, I do not know who paid for the Governor's tickets, lodging, and meals.

DaREEKKU 10 years ago

"You're welcome::for the tax-payer funded trip and for voting down hundreds of jobs and millions in revenue in Kansas. Hope you had fun!"I will sacrifice some of my tax money if it means not doing something incredibly stupid and ignorant, like putting up coal plants in Kansas that use a fossil fuel which costs are going up just as quickly as oil. Most of the complaints are from people who just want a reason to complain about a Democrat. Get over yourselves. Go fly a kite or something...there should be plenty of wind to keep it in the air...or so I've heard.

dirkleisure 10 years ago

April 30, 2001Bill to ensure safety of traveling governorThe Associated PressWhether the governor travels by plane, train or automobile may no longer be up to the governor.A measure sent to Gov. Bill Graves on Monday gives the Kansas Highway Patrol responsibility for the governor's safety while he or she is traveling. The patrol's superintendent would be authorized to say when and how the governor travels, if security is an issue.Senators approved the bill Monday 37-3. The House approved it last week 112-13. The bill was a response to Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan's death in the crash of a private plane during a campaign trip in October.Opponents said the bill could stick taxpayers with the costs of a governor's campaign trips because the patrol superintendent could order the state to pay for any air or road trip for safety reasons. For example, the superintendent could tell the governor that he couldn't fly in a private plane in bad weather.Graves has a policy of using private aircraft and pilots for political trips, though current state law allows him to use the state plane. The bill would make it possible for the patrol superintendent to override Graves' or a future governor's policy.The bill permits a governor to reimburse the state for political travel, even when the superintendent decides on the mode of transportation. The proposal requires a governor to pay if he or she uses a state vehicle or aircraft for personal or political travel and safety isn't a concern.

Raider 10 years ago

OK people, think about it. She's the governor of the state. A big STATE University is in the tournament, and making a run at the national title. She SHOULD be there. It doesn't matter if it's KU, KSU, ESU, WSU or whatever. What's got everyone's panties in a bunch? If she hadn't gone to any of these games, then you would all be screaming about her being an elitist and not supporting state teams and kids. Get over it.And as far as Melvin goes, I hope after this session that someone investigations the hell out of him and his relationship with these coal plants. Something's not right about it, and he's pushing way too hard for them. He almost seems desparate.

TopJayhawk 10 years ago

ralphraph......LOL....taxpayer one. You crack me up... I really do agree with you, but what are you gonna do?

Confrontation 10 years ago

By the way, this guy is from Ingalls. Obviously, he's a K-Suck fan who is still sad that Sebelius attended a KU game. Well, when K-Suck makes it to the national championship...yeah, I know. Not gonna happen.

yourworstnightmare 10 years ago

Neufeld is in the pocket of Big Coal. Here are his campaign contributions from Sunflower alone. Go to;jsessionid=F1F314AB6591238E0F8F30C5DFD2082Ato see a list of all of his contributions, from alcohol distributors, tobacco companies, and Big Coal.The guy can't remove his lips from the teat of Big Coal.09/01/1996 SUNFLOWER ELECTRIC POWER CORP 125.00 NEUFELD, MELVIN09/20/2004 SUNFLOWER ELECTRIC POWER CORP 100.00 NEUFELD, MELVIN10/18/2002 SUNFLOWER ELECTRIC POWER CORP 125.00 NEUFELD, MELVIN08/31/2006 SUNFLOWER ELECTRIC POWER CORPORATION 125.00 NEUFELD, MELVIN10/31/2000 SUNFLOWER ELECTRIC POWER CORPORATION 125.00 NEUFELD, MELVIN12/28/1998 SUNFLOWER ELECTRIC POWER CORPORATION 125.00 NEUFELD, MELVIN

dirkleisure 10 years ago

So inside it was reported by Harris News Service. But the governor's spokeswoman, Nicole Corcoran, denied the allegation, saying the governor routinely offers lawmakers rides to events that she is attending in her official role.Corcoran pointed out that some coal plant supporters also got a ride to the Final Four in San Antonio. And tickets weren't given out by Sebelius, she added.Lawmakers contacted about their trip to the games said they'd purchased their own tickets.

BrianR 10 years ago

Great, two certifiable wack jobs...

Mkh 10 years ago

"On March 30, Sens. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, and David Wysong, R-Mission Hills, flew back and forth to Detroit for the KU-Davidson game. On the return trip, state Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, was on board."------------------------------------------------Well this would partially explain why Marci Francisco and her office have not responded to my phone calls or emails for the last several months. I've never seen such blantant disregard by a representative in my life

yourworstnightmare 10 years ago

Wow. Neufeld is pathetic. I always knew he was an incompetent. Now, he shows us he is a vindictive, lying, win-at-all-costs hack. He is simply pulling things from thin air in any attempt to discredit the Governor. He looks ridiculous.Melvin, go back to farming. You do much more good for the State of Kansas as a farmer.What an embarrassment.

kansasethics 10 years ago

I'm certainly curious about how all this ticket business was conducted. Are you saying DirkLeisure that these legislators all had Final-4 tickets on their desk, and they ran into the Governor who said "hey do you want a ride with me?" Or were these legislators told "youve got a ride if you can get a ticket. Go and solicit the University to obtain a Final-4 ticket. Are such solicitations of the University legal? Even if the tickets were 'purchased'... I mean, not everyone can 'purchase' a Final-4 ticket from the University. When were the checks written? Two weeks ago after the news articles started to appear?Could any legislator 'purchase' Final-4 tickets from the University? Does Kansas law allow for this?

yourworstnightmare 10 years ago

Breaking news: Sebelius has been living in the Governor's mansion FOR FREE. She has had friends and acquaintances over WHO OBVIOUSLY SUPPORT HER AGENDA.When will this insanity end?Oh, yeah. It will end when a conservative republican does the same things and nutty right-jobs cease complaining about it.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 10 years ago

We are paying for these airplane flights, and they are not cheap. I do not think there should be a state airplane, you can see how it's use has been abused at taxpayer's expense. Governor you should be grounded, unless you pay for flights on domestic airlines. Thank you, Lynn

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