Archive for Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Brownback says lawmakers warned about open meetings law

February 1, 2012


— Dinners with Republican lawmakers at Gov. Sam Brownback's official residence did not violate the state's open meetings law because he was careful to admonish those attending to avoid discussing legislative business, Brownback's chief counsel said.

Brownback invited Republicans from 13 legislative committees to seven dinners at the Cedar Crest mansion in January, raising questions about whether the gatherings violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act, which prohibits a voting majority of a legislative body from discussing government business without giving the public notice or access to the meetings.

Republicans represent a voting majority of every committee in the Legislature. Brownback's staff had said previously that the dinners were strictly social gatherings, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

In a statement released Tuesday, the governor's chief counsel, Caleb Stegall, said Brownback was sure to mention KOMA's regulations before each dinner.

"While it would not be possible for the governor to violate KOMA in this situation because the governor is not a body or agency of the state, the governor did remind and admonish everyone present at the beginning of each legislative dinner that legislative committees must be aware of and comply with all KOMA requirements," Stegall said. "The governor and the governor's staff further explained to legislators present that they could not conduct any discussions about committee business during the dinners."

Stegall said once committee members were warned, the dinners became informational sessions, which are allowed under the law. He cited a 2009 opinion from then-Attorney General Steve Six.

Topeka attorney Mike Merriam, who represents the Kansas Press Association and the Capital-Journal, said Six's opinion involved electronic communication. Applying it to a personal gathering is a stretch, he said.

"A member of a public agency isn't complying with the law just because that person says nothing at an illegal meeting," he said. "If one of those members goes to an illegal meeting, it's a violation of KOMA whether they say anything or not."

Some legislators who spoke to the Capital-Journal last week about the dinners said legislative issues were discussed and didn't mention being warned about the open meetings law.

Rep. Lana Gordon, R-Topeka, said House Appropriations Committee members discussed their constituents' concerns about the governor's tax plan when the committee went to Cedar Crest on Jan. 24. And Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, said he "had an opportunity" to discuss a bill with the governor when the appropriations committee was at Cedar Crest but the discussion instead turned to tax policy, Medicaid, school finance and the state budget.

Rep. Jana Goodman, R-Leavenworth, was invited to Cedar Crest with the state's three education committees Jan. 10. When asked Tuesday at what point the governor's staff warned committee members not to violate KOMA, she said "''I don't know. It was certainly before ... "

After a pause, she said "It's not one of those things that was on my radar. I can't say for sure. It's just — they're social things."

Tim Shallenburger, the governors' legislative liaison, said Brownback discussed KOMA at the first dinner on Jan. 9 and also asked Senate President Steve Morris to warn members of his KPERS Select Committee about following the law.

"Senator Morris agreed, and so far as I am aware he succeeded. The governor and his staff have followed this general protocol at each legislative dinner," he said.

Morris on Tuesday said Shallenburger's statement was accurate.

Capital-Journal publisher Gregg Ireland has said the newspaper and the KPA will file a KOMA complaint with Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor.


Kirk Larson 6 years, 4 months ago

We're supposed to TRUST them that they did not discuss legislation? Yeah, right.

tomatogrower 6 years, 4 months ago

Were these paid for by us? Why not provide lunch for them during the meetings. It's cheaper than dinner.

jhawk926 6 years, 4 months ago

They must have had fish at these "dinners," because it sure smells fishy to me.

Henry Schwaller 6 years, 4 months ago

Interesting how the governor's staff responds to this accusation. The new, improved version of events is more flimsy than the first.

ignatius_j_reilly 6 years, 4 months ago

I'm tired of posting things like "Sam Brownback is evil" or whatever. The point is, the guy -- speaking of his personality, not at all his professionalism -- seems to be a possibly nice or misunderstood guy who has pushed for better cancer/autism research, has done great things in Africa, and depending on your view of abortion, worked to save some babies -- or at least some partially born babies.

But he is politically bullying, mentally inept and out of touch, and a failure as a governor. Even Republicans are quoted in the Washington Post as saying he's gone to far.

But he's serving a four-year term, until 2015. My question is this: can we get him out of office? The amount of public outrage against him isn't large enough to support a recall, I think.

So the next question is how do we prevent him from hurting Kansas, as much as possible, until 2015? This isn't intended to be rhetorical -- brainstorm some: how can we work to limit his power until that golden day of his exit?

Katara 6 years, 4 months ago

"So the next question is how do we prevent him from hurting Kansas, as much as possible, until 2015? This isn't intended to be rhetorical -- brainstorm some: how can we work to limit his power until that golden day of his exit?"

This is a good question. Although I think he is starting to see some rebellion from his fellow Republicans. They (and not just the moderates) are more vocal & public about questioning his decisions. We need to support those folks.

Sparko 6 years, 4 months ago

I wonder where the Koch Brother's Live feed recordings are? These GOP governors are all coordinating the kick in the groin techniques externally anyway.

mloburgio 6 years, 4 months ago

The Adventures Of Pinocchio Brownback........

He is a character and the main protagonist of the 2010 kansas novel "The Road Map For Kansas", by The Koch Brothers, and has since appeared in many adaptations of that story and others.

Carved by a man named God in a small kansas village, he was created as a human puppet, but dreamed of becoming The President.

Pinocchio is often a term used to describe an individual who is prone to telling lies, fabricating stories and exaggerating or creating tall tales like , i care about women ,children, the poor, education, elderly and telling the truth are a few examples of his tales.

Love how the GOP, after creating a huge economic crisis under Bush, are now acting like someone else farted.

Joe Blackford II 6 years, 4 months ago

Insist our legislature pull back the Brownback ""curtain of transparency" on the site selection process for the National Bio- & Agro- terrorism Defense Facility (NBAF). Such an investigation will find:

Kansas has had a Ringer sitting in from the very beginning of an opaque curtain designed to label the Plum Island Animal Disease Center as "aging," physically not enough room . and not have BSL-4 capabilities to meet the expanding mission's research needs, or to be prepared for future needs.

"The DHS Science & Technology Advisory Committee has been established to serve as a source of independent, scientific and technical planning advice to the Under Secretary for Science and Technology as mandated by the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The Committee will hold its first meeting February 26-27, 2004."

This committee is no doubt the "secret panel" which advised Under Secretary Cohen to select KSU for the NBAF

Dr. David R. Franz sat on the DHS Science & Technology Advisory Committee at the same time: he was:

Director of KSU's National Agricultural Biosecurity Center

Chair, KSU Biosecurity Advisory Committee

Director of the Executive Committee; Vice-Chair, of the Investment Committee, Kansas Bioscience Authority. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius appointed Franz as an inaugural nine member of the KBA on August 02, 2004.

Franz is Vice President and Chief Biological Scientist at Midwest Research Institute.

MRI was awarded a $200K KBA contract for "NBAF GOCO Strategy," an MRI treatise based upon MRI's success as the contractor for their Government Owned, Contractor Operated lab in Fredrick, MD, for the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infections Diseases, of which, Col/Dr Franz was formerly Commander.

Here's a link to MRI's Center for Biological Safety and Security, which has:

"Assisted in the design of many of the most notable BSL-3 and BSL-4 containment laboratories worldwide..

"Conducted more than 50 international site assessments and risk/threat analyses of biological facilities and containment laboratories as well as the development of appropriate administrative controls and sustainment programs."

"Developed and implemented extensive biological safety and security training for laboratory staff, laboratory construction firms, government, academic research facilities and pharmaceutical companies worldwide."

Joe Blackford II 6 years, 4 months ago

So the investigation should uncover Kansas $ spent with MRI, KC. MO, to prop up the KSU Biosecurity Research Institute, aka Pat Roberts Hall; assemble the house of cards known as the KSU NABC; spend KBA $ on contacts to which Dr. Franz is tied; and, in fact, wasted all this money to secure the NBAF when it was rigged to come to KSU from the day of its inception.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

Governor Borwnback If these folks don't talk government and legislative business do they talk about democrats and their sex lives?

Oops under the RINO umbrella that would be talking legislation.

Governor Brownback we do not trust you or your followers.

JHOK32 6 years, 4 months ago

If it looks like a dead fish & smells like a dead fish, it is a dead fish, but of course Mr. Brownbutt wouldn't lie to the good people of Kansas now would he? Of course not, everyone can sleep at peace ................... do I see shades of a Hitler mustache?

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