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Archive for Friday, October 22, 2010

Kansas attorney general candidates clash over campaign claims

October 22, 2010

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2010 Kansas Elections: Attorney General

Dennis Hawver, Steve Six and Derek Schmidt are running for Kansas Attorney General.

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— Partisan barbs are flowing in an attorney general's race that could turnout to be the closest statewide contest on the November ballot.

Democratic incumbent Steve Six, appointed to the post in 2008 by then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, thinks Republican challenger Derek Schmidt is trying to rewrite history by claiming to have led the drive for the Kansas version of Jessica's law.

In return, Schmidt, a state senator who has been majority leader since 2005, said Six is exaggerating his experience as the state's top prosecutor, especially since he's prosecuted only two criminal cases in his career.

The Topeka Capital-Journal looked into claims on both sides and reported Thursday that documents, published accounts and interviews with Democrats and Republicans shed light on the campaign rhetoric.

For instance, Schmidt claims that he was among the first lawmakers in 2005 to call for passage of Jessica's law, a 4-year-old statute that imposes a life sentence without possibility of parole for 25 years for first-time adult perpetrators of sex crimes against children under 14 years old.

"Derek is confident he was a key player in making this legislation happen," said Schmidt spokeswoman Jackie McClaskey. "He literally led the charge."

While Schmidt was among many advocates in the Statehouse for the popular measure, he also almost single-handedly killed it by insisting that a provision be added to allow private jails in Kansas.

Residents in Yates Center, in his district, wanted a private prison in their community.

"He even threatened to adjourn the session if he didn't get his way with private prisons," said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat.

Near the end of the 2006 session, legislators became concerned that Jessica's law might become entangled in gridlock when House Speaker Doug Mays wouldn't budge on the prison issue. But Schmidt relented, and the compromise version that didn't include private prisons passed 122-0 in the House and 36-2 in the Senate.

"It's another example of how some legislators work," said Six spokesman Gavin Young. "Important law for the benefit of Kansas was bundled with legislation that only helps special interests."

As for Six's campaign advertising holding him up as the state's top prosecutor, Kansas Republican Party executive director Ashley McMillan said Six had never prosecuted a criminal case until he was appointed by Sebelius in 2008.

"You would think they could at least get their facts straight," McMillan said.

Six spent two-thirds of his career as a personal injury lawyer in Missouri before being named a Kansas district court judge in 2005.

McMillan said Schmidt has handled more theft, domestic battery, assault, drunken driving and drug cases as a city prosecutor in Independence in the past few weeks than Six has ever taken up.

"Neither Derek Schmidt nor Steve Six is a career criminal prosecutor," McMillan said. "The difference is that Derek Schmidt will be honest and tell you that, while hypocrite Steve Six keeps pretending to be something he's not."

Six has prosecuted two Kansas murder defendants, making him the first Kansas attorney general in 34 years to personally take over a criminal case.

He got a 50-year sentence last year against Kenneth Wilson for first-degree murder in the shooting death of an Osborne County farmer in 2008. Earlier this year, he prosecuted Israel Mireles for the 2007 murder of a woman in El Dorado. Mireles was sentenced to life without parole.

"The Republican Party would be better served trying to defend Derek Schmidt's record in the Legislature than highlighting his part-time work prosecuting misdemeanors," said Kenny Johnston, executive director of the state Democratic Party.

Comments

Frank Smith 4 years, 2 months ago

Derek Schmidt and Phill Kline took substantial campaign contributions from corrupt for-profit prison operator GEO Group in exchange for their efforts to repeal the Kansas ban on these dangerous, low-paying prisons.

The law wasn't an attempt to site a prison in Yates Center, where it would have been extremely impractical. It was an attempt to be able to put one of these escape-ridden prisons anywhere in Kansas, your neighborhood or mine.

Schmidt also steered contributions to other legislators whose help he needed to become Majority Leader.

There's no questions where Schmidt's loyalties lie: It's in Boca Raton, Florida.

kansastruthteller 4 years, 1 month ago

Let me ask Six supporters a couple of questions. Really would like to know how you think about Six.

Does it matter to you that he criticized Schmidt for taking contributions from payday lenders while he took 3 times the amount Schmidt did?

Does it matter to you that even when directly asked about it, he and his spokesman refuse to comment directly on it? (See LJWorld article and online chat transcript for supporting documentation).

Does it matter to you that Six criticizes Schmidt for lack of criminal trial experience when prior to being AG Six had not prosecuted a criminal case and to date has only prosecuted 2?

Look forward to your responses.

kansastruthteller 4 years, 1 month ago

Guess I have one more question.

Do you think Six is critical of McKinney and Holland for voting for the same payday loan bill Schmidt did...and do you think he'd criticize Sebelius for signing it?

Of course, the reason they all supported it was because it offered protection for active military from collections. A good reason to support the bill so I can't understand why Six said he wouldn't vote for it if he were in the legislature?

kdotks 4 years, 1 month ago

If you read about the last AG debate you saw that Six said that he wouldn't have voted on a bill that took military members and needy Kansans and hurt one of them.

The payday loans thing I thought I heard explained. It wasn't the contributions that were the issue. It was the fact that the contributions were made and then legislation was passed in their favor. Which is nothing more than corrupt. It's in the ad.

From what I understand Schmidt had to be shown what the inside of a courtroom looked like when this campaign started as opposed to Six who was a judge and a career attorney.

It just feels like the Schmidt campaign is reaching. He's a politician. Go with it don't try and make yourself into something your not.

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