Archive for Friday, March 12, 2010

House Democrats file formal complaint against Speaker O’Neal

House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, on Friday criticized a complaint filed against him by House Democrats. Democrats say it is improper for O'Neal, an attorney, to represent groups suing the state over a budget move approved by the Legislature. O'Neal said he has complied with the law. "They're shooting blanks," he said of the Democrats' complaint.

House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, on Friday criticized a complaint filed against him by House Democrats. Democrats say it is improper for O'Neal, an attorney, to represent groups suing the state over a budget move approved by the Legislature. O'Neal said he has complied with the law. "They're shooting blanks," he said of the Democrats' complaint.

March 12, 2010, 3:25 p.m. Updated March 12, 2010, 11:32 p.m.

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House Democratic leaders on Friday filed a complaint against House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson. The complaint alleged misconduct over a lawsuit filed by O'Neal on the part of business groups against the state, At the table from left to right are Reps. Eber Phelps of Hays, Barbara Ballard of Lawrence, Paul Davis, of Lawrence, and Marti Crow of Leavenworth.

House Democratic leaders on Friday filed a complaint against House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson. The complaint alleged misconduct over a lawsuit filed by O'Neal on the part of business groups against the state, At the table from left to right are Reps. Eber Phelps of Hays, Barbara Ballard of Lawrence, Paul Davis, of Lawrence, and Marti Crow of Leavenworth.

— Top Democrats filed a complaint Friday in the Kansas House against its Republican speaker, accusing him of misconduct for representing businesses, trade groups and insurance funds in a lawsuit against the state.

The Democrats said Speaker Mike O’Neal’s involvement in the lawsuit as an attorney creates conflicts of interest for the Hutchinson Republican as a legislator. His clients in the case include the Kansas Bankers Association, the Kansas Realtors Association and a Wichita company doing business as Speedy Cash.

O’Neal called the complaint “bizarre” and said Democrats have not shown any instance in which he influenced legislation on behalf of one of his clients in the lawsuit.

“There’s just nothing substantive here,” O’Neal told reporters during a news conference.

Six House Democrats, led by Minority Leader Paul Davis, of Lawrence, submitted the complaint to the House’s chief clerk. The chamber’s rules will force the appointment of a committee of three Republicans and three Democrats to review it.

Under those rules, the appointments will be made by Speaker Pro Tem Arlen Siegfreid, an Olathe Republican, who plans to announce them Monday. The House last appointed a committee to investigate a member’s conduct in 1951.

Such a complaint can lead the House to censure or expel a member, but Davis said the Democrats will drop their complaint if O’Neal removes himself from the lawsuit.

“The action that I’m hoping will occur is that the speaker will come to his senses and understand that he shouldn’t be involved in this lawsuit,” Davis said.

The speaker has declined to remove himself or his firm from the lawsuit, saying he’s representing clients, just as other legislator-lawyers, including Davis, do routinely.

O’Neal is not likely to face any sanctions if Republicans stick with him. A vote to censure or expel a member requires a two-thirds majority; the GOP holds a 76-49 majority.

Davis said many House Republicans are upset with O’Neal over the lawsuit against the state but are afraid to say so publicly, fearing retaliation. Some Republicans declined to discuss O’Neal’s case with reporters.

O’Neal dismissed talk that he’s all-powerful in the House, noting that he and past GOP speakers have, for example, deferred to minority leaders on committee assignments for Democrats.

He said he has heard from Democrats upset with Davis and his leadership team.

O’Neal filed the lawsuit against the state in January in Shawnee County District Court on behalf of 17 clients, most of them industry workers’ compensation funds.

The lawsuit attacks a financial move last year — opposed by O’Neal — that helped balance the state budget. The Legislature confiscated unused funds in various accounts set aside for specific regulatory purposes and diverted them to general government programs.

O’Neal’s clients paid fees deposited into some of those special accounts. The lawsuit argues the state imposed an unauthorized tax on his clients and exceeded its regulatory powers.

The speaker said Democrats are trying to create a political distraction to avoid questions about how they would solve the state’s budget problems.

Related document

Formal Complaint Against Speaker O'Neal ( .PDF )

Comments

situveux1 5 years, 5 months ago

Finally. Put up or shut up. Took them long enough.

Shane Garrett 5 years, 5 months ago

Well, there they go again. Creating more jobs for people who have none. Oh, wait... I guess it creates jobs for lawyers. Shoot'em.

Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 5 months ago

Mike O'Neal defenders... who knew?

Just add them to the House GOP caucus, all of whom are standing behind this guy 100%.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 5 months ago

If they manage to down O'Neal, some other republican knucklehead will spring up to fill his place.

Dumb Kansas republicans are like shark's teeth. When one falls out, another is there to fill in.

bad_dog 5 years, 5 months ago

And now O'Neal is trying to limit the effect of or reverse the 5% pay cut that includes legislative staff.

The same legislative staff that employs his wife. The same cut (HB 2222) that passed in the House 114-5 and the Senate 33-6.

http://cjonline.com/news/legislature/2010-03-11/oneal_tries_to_limit_pay_cut

weeslicket 5 years, 5 months ago

o'neal said he wanted this official complaint so that "the truth can finally come out". so, we'll wait and see how this plays itself out.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

corruption should be no more acceptable than violating the law.....

jayhawklawrence 5 years, 5 months ago

I think we are dealing with a guy who is mentally unstable.

We have seen this before with some politicians. They lose track of what is considered "normal" behavior.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

Thanks Reps. Eber Phelps of Hays, Barbara Ballard of Lawrence, Paul Davis of Lawrence, and Marti Crow of Leavenworth.

Good job!

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