Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt in Lawrence on Tuesday voiced concern about the amount of litigation fees that make up his office’s budget.
Schmidt, a Republican who took office in 2011, said that in 2007, as was tradition, about $1 out of every $4 in his office’s budget came from state-appropriated money, but today it has evolved to $1 out of every $13, saying the rest comes from money recovered in litigation.
“I don’t think an appropriate role for that is for me to have to sit down and figure out who we’re going to file a civil suit against today so we can pay for the work of the criminal litigation division in 2015,” said the former Kansas Senate majority leader. “That is literally where we are. I don’t think it’s where we want to be. I don’t think it’s good public policy. I don’t think it’s consistent with trying to make Kansas a more investment-friendly state.”
Schmidt talked to about 50 members of the Douglas County Republican Party at the Lawrence Country Club in an event aimed at generating support for the party.
Earlier he asked the audience where a majority of funds for his office’s budget had come from.
“Bake sales,” someone said.
“Bake sales would be preferable to what we’re in a position to be doing,” he replied.
He also called his two Democratic predecessors Paul Morrison, who resigned amid a sex scandal, and Lawrence attorney Steve Six “good people” and “good lawyers” but said their political philosophies differ.
Schmidt said he has worked to bring the funding issue to the attention of legislators and the governor’s office.
“From the standpoint of our office, I think the right balance is to have general funds pay for criminal prosecution. I think that’s sort of a core function,” he said. “If policymakers disagree, we’ll keep doing it the way it’s done now, but I think it’s incumbent upon me to bring it to their attention.”
Local elected Republicans Kansas House members Tom Sloan and TerriLois Gregory, Sheriff Ken McGovern and Douglas County Commissioner Jim Flory also spoke at the event along with Kansas Senate candidate Jeff Melcher of Johnson County who is running against Senate Vice President John Vratil, a moderate Republican.
Party chairman Richard Todd said the March 10 GOP presidential caucus in Douglas County has been moved to Free State High School, 4700 Overland Drive. Doors will open at 8 a.m., and voting will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., when doors will close, Todd said.