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Archive for Monday, July 23, 2012

Shawnee DA reviewing info in Kansas meetings probe

July 23, 2012

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— The Shawnee County district attorney's office is reviewing information in an investigation whether dinners at the governor's mansion violated the state's open meetings law, a spokesman for the office said Monday.

Matt Patterson, spokesman for Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor's office, said staff members were reviewing the investigative reports and preparing to present a summary to Taylor. Peterson said the report should be completed in the coming weeks.

"Nothing is finalized," Patterson said. "The investigation has been fully completed. We're now getting the summary written and ready for the district attorney to review."

The Democrat district attorney is investigating seven dinners held at Cedar Crest, the governor's official residence, in January. Republican members of 13 legislative committees were invited by GOP Gov. Sam Brownback to attend the dinners, which sometimes combined two or three committees with related policy missions.

Taylor launched his investigation in the spring after receiving a complaint from The Topeka Capital-Journal and the Kansas Press Association.

The newspaper obtained documents from the attorney general's office, which indicated that 54 members of the Kansas House of Representatives attended at least one of the dinners and that 43 of them accepted legal representation from the office of Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican and former state senators.

The list was obtained through an open records request. It was part of an email that an assistant to House Speaker Mike O'Neal sent March 5 to Michael Smith, an assistant attorney general who provided representation.

A similar list for state senators who accepted legal representation was not available.

Brownback has said that during the dinners he discussed his policy priorities for the session and took questions and comments. He has said his staff was careful to ensure the meetings didn't violate the Kansas Open Meetings Act.

Taylor has said the opening meetings law doesn't apply to Brownback because he isn't a member of the committees in question.

The investigation has drawn criticism from Republican legislators as being politically motivated.

Comments

Clearly4Kansas 2 years, 4 months ago

Interesting that a democrat DA has chosen to wrap this up and publically release his findings on the eve of the primary election - nice political hatchet job.

Clearly4Kansas 2 years, 4 months ago

My point is this: the DA could have wrapped this up months ago. To release findings now just proves it's political partisan gamesmanship. So I don't think his press release is worth a hoot.

Claudean McKellips 2 years, 4 months ago

Brownback needs to follow the law, or he needs to face the consequences.

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