Archive for Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ethics officials investigating House Speaker O’Neal for possible violation of nepotism law

April 15, 2009, 4:38 p.m. Updated April 15, 2009, 5:31 p.m.

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— When state Rep. Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, was elected speaker of the House earlier this year, his wife also changed jobs.

Cindy O’Neal had been secretary of the House Judiciary Committee, which her husband chaired.

But when Mike O’Neal got a promotion, Cindy O’Neal was hired as a House Republican Caucus liaison at $27,000 per year.

O’Neal said he had nothing to do with his wife getting the job.

On Wednesday, the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission announced it was investigating a complaint filed by a Democratic legislator that the speaker violated the state’s nepotism statute.

The decision came after a closed-door session in which the commission heard from a three-member subcommittee of the commission, which had reviewed the complaint.

The complaint by state Rep. Marti Crow of Leavenworth states that Speaker O’Neal violated the nepotism statute “by advocating or causing the transfer of employment as well as participating in an action relating to the employment of his wife, Cindy O’Neal. This is a clear violation of Kansas laws regarding nepotism.”

Speaker O’Neal denied any wrongdoing.

O’Neal said his wife was hired by Peter Freund, who is chief of staff for House Majority Leader Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell.

O’Neal said he had nothing to do with the hiring and has no supervisory authority over her. He said he obtained legal opinions that Freund’s hiring of Cindy O’Neal didn’t violate the law.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “I have a clean conscience about it, so does Cindy and so does the majority leader’s office.”

Cindy O’Neal has worked for the Legislature for the past 21 sessions.

The full Ethics Commission will conduct a public hearing on the dispute on May 20. If the commission determines that O’Neal violated the nepotism law, he could face a fine of up to $5,000.

Comments

Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 11 months ago

"she earns $27,000 per year from funds in both the budgets of the speaker’s office and House majority leader’s office."

and...

"O’Neal said he had nothing to do with the hiring and has no supervisory authority over her."

i.e. O'Neal wants everyone to know he has no idea and no interest about how the money in his office budget is spent. Fiscal responsibility?

Ladies and Gentlemen, your Kansas Republican Party!

Daniel Kennamore 5 years, 11 months ago

This has got to be the Dems fault somehow...and Palin was the best VP candidate in the last 100 years.

KLATTU 5 years, 11 months ago

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Summerguuurl007 5 years, 11 months ago

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dandelion 5 years, 11 months ago

And they are from Hutchinson? Does she commute, or is he a career politician who pretends to live in Hutch, but really lives in Topeka? Does she only work during the legislative session? Pretty good money for a few months work. If she works year round, how can they justify representing Hutch's district? If I lived there, I would want these answers.

Kyle Reed 5 years, 11 months ago

Bob_Keeshan said: “i.e. O'Neal wants everyone to know he has no idea and no interest about how the money in his office budget is spent. Fiscal responsibility?"

Well he didn't hire or supervise his wife, he must not care about his offices budget! That's stretching it a bit thin wouldn't you say? That can't possibly make sense to you.

Kyle Reed 5 years, 11 months ago

I don't know how angry I'd be given a $27000/yr job isn't exactly living the high life. If he's guilty of it he's guilty of it and should be punished accordingly.

However, what does any of that have to do with the ridiculous conclusion Bob_Keeshan came to from the statement the speaker made? Since he's mad he can come up with ludicrous conclusions?

Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 11 months ago

The Speaker gladly admits he has no interest in how the money in his office is being spent. He just hands it over to staff and tells this Peter Freund character to do with it as he pleases.

That's stretched about as far as I could stretch a chunk of marble from the floors of his palatial new office.

After he finishes being Speaker, O'Neal should apply for a job at GM! Maybe AIG is looking for some people with his fiscal skills! Here's some taxpayer money, go spend it and make sure I'm not part of any of the decisions!

budwhysir 5 years, 11 months ago

Thats the way it should be, if you are found guilty of something, pay $5,000. That lowers the tax payers burden to $22,000. Dont worry , you could work the same deal if you where a politician. I for one could care less, nothing I can do, no reason to worry

Flap Doodle 5 years, 11 months ago

He should have limited himself to cheating on his taxes as if he were a Democrat.

number1jayhawker 5 years, 11 months ago

snap-pop-no-crackle, Now that is just down right funny.

Jersey_Girl 5 years, 11 months ago

Right, because paying $7,000 for mistakes on 3 years worth of tax returns is the same as a $27,000 salary going to your own household.

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