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Archive for Saturday, December 8, 2012

Kan. GOP leader’s reimbursement raises eyebrows

December 8, 2012

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TOPEKA (ap) — When incoming Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick had leftover campaign funds at the end of 2011 and no legal way to spend them on political activities or for personal use, he still pocketed $14,464 and said he was reimbursing himself for a decade’s worth of communications expenses, records show.

A state Republican Party official acknowledged that to some Kansans the move perhaps “just doesn’t seem right,” but is probably legal. Carol Williams, the state Governmental Ethics Commission’s executive director, said Merrick’s action would pass muster if he can properly document his past expenses.

Merrick spent a decade in the House before accepting an appointment to the Senate to replace Jeff Colyer after Colyer was elected lieutenant governor in 2010. Candidates can’t use campaign funds to cover purely personal expenses, and the Kansas Supreme Court had ruled previously that state law prohibited candidates who raised money for one office from transferring it to a campaign for another office. Merrick could have given leftover House campaign funds back to contributors, donated them to charity or, as he did, reimbursed himself for expenses associated with campaigning or holding office.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, reported reimbursing himself for telephone, cell phone, fax and Internet service expenses from Jan. 1, 2000, through Dec. 31, 2010. The money came from Merrick’s dormant House campaign fund when Merrick was serving in the Senate.

“That sounds like one that if the public looks at it just doesn’t seem right,” said Clay Barker, the Kansas Republican Party’s executive director. “But I know having worked with ethics quite a bit, that there are some areas with a very ‘bright line’ rule. As long as you stay on the correct side, you can come up with a result that is legal, and the Legislature’s candidates all know what those rules are.”

Merrick’s House campaign committee disclosed the reimbursement in a report filed with the secretary of state’s office in January 2012 and attached a two-page spreadsheet listing monthly totals for telephone, cell phone, fax and Internet expenses from 2001 through 2010. A note says Merrick sought reimbursement for 60 percent of his total expenses of $24,107, although it didn’t explain that percentage.

The incoming House speaker did not discuss his actions with The Topeka Capital-Journal and declined to comment Thursday to The Associated Press.

Several donors said they weren’t bothered by the reimbursement.

“I don’t have any complaints about Ray,” said Niels Hansen, an Overland Park firearms dealer and gunsmith. “He’s an honest guy. He works at what he was elected to do.”

Merrick decided not to seek a full term in the Senate after three federal judges redrew the state’s political boundaries this year and placed Merrick in the same district as Sen. Pat Apple, a Louisburg Republican. Instead, Merrick is returning to the House, and fellow Republicans there chose him to replace retiring Speaker Mike O’Neal, of Hutchinson, when lawmakers open their 2013 session next month.

Comments

avarom 1 year, 4 months ago

Shouldn't there be a statue of limitations imposed at the State House for collecting reimbursements?? Like the blue collar workers who were restricted from collecting there overtime and could only legally go back 3 years....due to the statue of limitations... they were not paid overtime for 10 years........Where is the Justice in this Country and Why is there different rules for some and not for others who deserve it and EARNED IT??? There should be no Privileged Characters, everyone should be treated Equally! Horrible!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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avarom 1 year, 4 months ago

Audit time.... with receipts. “Wisdom ceases to be wisdom when it becomes too proud to weep, too grave to laugh, and too selfish to seek other than itself.”

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bobberboy 1 year, 4 months ago

another immoral republican !!

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irvan moore 1 year, 4 months ago

my favorite is still t lois, her thousands of dolllars of mileage reimbursment is a joke

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budtugly 1 year, 4 months ago

We got the best politicians money can buy. That was evident about 8 years ago or so when they legalized transferring unused campaign contributions to there bank accounts, along with bribery in the form of lobbyists. Oh yeah when they retire from a life of thievery in politics then they are in line to become a lobbyist. All of that when the rest of the country and world suffers.They will all be together in hell so I hope they enjoy it here while it lasts.

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Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 4 months ago

Every politician with left over campaign funds keeps the money. I just watched a guy a few weeks ago on the Colbert Report explained how to shuffle the funds to a tax free account which legally does not need to be reported or taxed by the IRS. I wonder how much Obama and Romney had left from their bilion dollar war chests? Anyone know? My Google finger is broken.

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pace 1 year, 4 months ago

I hope he cleared this with the Koch bros.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

Having 'Skin in the Game'

by Ralph Nader

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/12/07-4

"Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes,

“The worst problem of modernity lies in the malignant transfer of fragility and antifragility from one part to the other, with one getting the benefits, the other one (unwittingly) getting the harm, with such transfer facilitated by the growing wedge between the ethical and the legal.”

Recognizing the use of self-serving law by the powerful as an instrument of oppression to engage in blatantly unethical conduct, Taleb offers former Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Rubin, as an illustrative. With Bill Clinton, Rubin pressed Congress in 1999 to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act. Just before the repeal’s passage, he resigned and quickly joined Citigroup, the giant financial conglomerate where he was making $40 million within a few months.

It was not a coincidence that Citigroup was the major lobbyist for repealing Glass-Steagall, an FDR-era success, separating commercial banking from investment banking to assure stability and minimize conflicts of interest that were very risky to trusting investors. But, it wasn’t Rubin who took any risks. After disastrously co-directing Citibank’s strategy to the edge of bankruptcy, he proceeded to rack up millions of dollars in bonuses while pushing to make sure that Washington directly bailed out his bank and other financial giants.

Because of Rubin’s avaricious and wrongheaded behavior, pension funds, mutual funds, individual investors, taxpayers and workers all paid the price for the 2008 Wall Street Collapse. Despite this wreckage, Rubin pops up after Obama’s election as part of the group of the president-elect’s leading advisers"

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question4u 1 year, 4 months ago

"...the move perhaps 'just doesn’t seem right,' but is probably legal."

Yes, Merrick is definitely filling O'Neal's shoes. Legality, not ethics, is all that matters.

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