Topeka House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, is seeking information about the ethics complaint he faces, concerning the hiring of his wife for a House Republican staff job, according to a letter released Wednesday.
“I would appreciate receiving the list of witnesses, including a list of those who have been subpoenaed or for whom requests for subpoenas have been or will be requested,” O’Neal said in the May 7 letter to Carol Williams, executive director of the Ethics Commission.
“Finally, I request information regarding the factual and legal basis for the finding of probable cause, including any written memoradum setting for the basis for the finding, along with a list of the members of the panel making the recommendation,” he wrote.
The Ethics Commission has scheduled a July 22 hearing in the case. State Rep. Marti Crow, D-Leavenworth filed a complaint in March and accused O’Neal of breaking the state’s anti-nepotism law when his wife, Cindy O’Neal, was hired as an aide to the House GOP Caucus.
Speaker O’Neal has said he had nothing to do with his wife getting hired to the $27,000-per year job.
A Jan. 6 memo from House Majority Leader Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, says: “My office with the assistance of the Speaker’s office will be hiring a caucus staff: Wade Hopgood, Media and Communications Director, Jenna Keesling, Legislative Policy Director, and Cindy O’Neal, Caucus Liaison.”
O’Neal’s hearing before the Ethics Commission was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but in his letter he sought a continuance of the hearing. He said because of the wrap-up legislative session, which concluded Saturday, he hadn’t had time to prepare for the hearing.
If the commission finds O’Neal violated the anti-nepotism law, he could face a fine of up to $5,000.