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Archive for Tuesday, June 5, 2012

7 lawmakers subpoenaed over meetings with Brownback

June 5, 2012, 4:59 p.m. Updated June 5, 2012, 10:51 p.m.

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— A veteran Republican in the Kansas Senate accused a Democratic district attorney Tuesday of conducting a “political fishing expedition” for issuing subpoenas to seven legislators to force them to answer questions about private dinner meetings lawmakers had with GOP Gov. Sam Brownback.

Sen. Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican, was among the seven GOP legislators subpoenaed late last month in Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor’s investigation of seven dinners in January at Cedar Crest, the governor’s official residence. Brownback invited members of 13 House and Senate committees, including Wagle, almost all of them fellow Republicans.

Taylor spokesman Lee McGowan said Wagle and Sen. Bob Marshall, of Fort Scott, received subpoenas, as did Reps. Anthony Brown, of Eudora; Rob Bruchman, of Overland Park; Steve Brunk, of Bel Aire; Virgil Peck, of Tyro, and Scott Schwab, of Olathe. However, McGowan said, Bruchman and Schwab were later released from their subpoenas.

McGowan said Brunk and Peck have already submitted to interviews, and the subpoenas to Marshall and Brown order them to appear in district court Thursday to answer questions. Wagle said the attorney general’s office, which is representing lawmakers, is arranging for her to answer questions later by phone because she doesn’t want to travel while undergoing treatments for cancer this summer.

Taylor launched his investigation in February into whether the gatherings violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act. Brownback’s office said Tuesday that he’s confident the gatherings didn’t violate any laws. Wagle, who attended two dinners in January, said Taylor and his staff are “not going to find anything.”

“It’s a political fishing expedition,” Wagle said. “It’s a huge waste of time, energy and resources.”

McGowan declined to respond to Wagle’s comments.

The district attorney’s staff had attempted to interview legislators before lawmakers ended their annual session. Lawmakers had to agree to answer questions, because the state constitution shielded them from being subpoenaed while they were in session.

Schwab said he was released from his subpoena after submitting a statement saying he didn’t attend one of the dinners. Wagle said she didn’t answer questions previously because she was busy. Brown, who also attended two dinners, said potential times for interviews “never meshed up with my schedule.”

Marshall, Bruchman, Brunk and Peck didn’t return telephone messages seeking comment Tuesday.

The Open Meetings Act prohibits a voting majority of a legislative body from discussing government business without giving the public notice or access to the meetings.

Taylor said at the outset of his investigation that the act does not apply to Brownback as an individual and that the alleged violations are civil, not criminal, matters. Officials who knowingly break the law can be fined up to $500 per incident, but a case typically leads to an order of agreement spelling out what steps officials will take to avoid future violations.

Brownback invited more than 90 of the state’s 165 legislators to the January dinners, grouping them by committee membership. The one Democrat invited has said she assumed it was a mistake and didn’t attend.

The governor acknowledged in March that he set up the meetings to discuss his agenda for this year’s legislative session, did “most of the talking” and took questions and comments. He has dismissed criticism that the gatherings were business meetings, and many lawmakers who attended them have described them repeatedly as social gatherings.

Wagle, who has served in the Legislature since 1991, said she’s been to events at Cedar Crest in four administrations designed “to build relationships with legislators.”

“Every event I’ve ever been to is social,” she said. “Yes, a governor might mention a legislative issue, but there is no strategy discussed.”

Comments

Milton Bland 1 year, 10 months ago

Hey, I have an idea. Let's have a recall election. The Democrats can pay for it, just like the did in Wisconsin. And then when Brownie is gone, all Douglas County can celebrate! Hopefully we can find another "Kitty" as crooked as the last one who is now running the federal government's health care mess!

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marleys 1 year, 10 months ago

Susan Wagle, as dumb and nutty as they come. If stupidity was a capitol crime, she's be on death row.

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Liberty275 1 year, 10 months ago

If Mr Taylor has reason to believe some illegal activity has happened, he would be shirking his duty to not investigate. We give DAs money to do that. If it's shown to be a fishing expedition, the political fallout will be costly. We'll see what happens.

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blindrabbit 1 year, 10 months ago

Too bad they didn't call in that dingbat, TerriLois Gregory from Baldwin City, I'm sure she would have added a lot of common sense to the Brownback meetings. At least they got Anthony Brown from Eudora, another wise sage of local Republican politics.

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Larrytown 1 year, 10 months ago

“It’s a political fishing expedition,” Wagle said. “It’s a huge waste of time, energy and resources.”

What a hypocrite!! Comments like this are why people like Wagle should be removed from office immediately. Wagle was a huge contributer behind the Kansas Bioscience Authority audit...a complete (110%) waste of taxpayer's money. The audit was a political witch hunt with no results.

Being a no nonsense individual....I can't stand people like Wagle. It just makes my skin crawl knowing that people like her are our elected officials.

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joshupetersen 1 year, 10 months ago

This article is so biased it's not funny.

"Oh, the Dems are fishing, just trying to make up problems"...

Congressmen are required to have open meetings, and then the head honchos known for pulling strings and closing schools and siding with big corps over the interests of Kansas as a whole decide to start meeting in private, and all we have is their own word that they aren't talking any plans?

Next they'll expect us to idly believe they're going to take all of our money and give it to themselves and their corporations, and that'll somehow make us richer.

It makes me sick how much corruption is going on in Kansas, it's one of the worst states for that.

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Tracy Rogers 1 year, 10 months ago

"It's a political fishing expedition," Wagle said. "It's a huge waste of time, energy and resources."

She should know. I mean, how much did the extra days of legislature cost us and they didn't even finish their business?

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dinglesmith 1 year, 10 months ago

Simple question. If the intent was to build community among legislators, where were the Democrats? Sebelius invited legislators in alphabetically ordered groups, not working committees, and included both Republicans and Democrats in her meetings.

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pace 1 year, 10 months ago

I bet they don't want to answer questions. It is a problem, I wonder if they can take the fifth? I bet they could, better option than perjury. Brownback should resign.

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appleaday 1 year, 10 months ago

"The governor acknowledged in March that he set up the meetings to discuss his agenda for this year's legislative session, did "most of the talking" and took questions and comments. He has dismissed criticism that the gatherings were business meetings, and many lawmakers who attended them have described them repeatedly as social gatherings."

Even a kindergardener can see the contradiction here.

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autie 1 year, 10 months ago

When Phill Kline went fishing the far right said it was by the rightous hand of god. So when a Dem makes a valid inquiry and does the job he is paid to do, criticism. Is you is or is you ain't my constituency?

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JackMcKee 1 year, 10 months ago

God forbid there are a few people left in Kansas that are willing to hold the far righties feet to the fire. I guess they don't think they should have to answer to anyone. I wonder how far off secession is on their list, since our new idol, Texas, has already mentioned it. The inmates are running the asylum, folks.

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observant 1 year, 10 months ago

Poor babies, how dare anyone question their ethics and honesty. Least of all the ethical angel Wagle. After all would any GOP/Teabagger ever tell a lie or or misrepresent any verifiable facts?

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Phillbert 1 year, 10 months ago

"It's a political fishing expedition," Wagle said. "It's a huge waste of time, energy and resources."

And if anyone knows first-hand about political fishing expeditions that waste time, energy and state resources, it is Susan Wagle.

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Agnostick 1 year, 10 months ago

Brownback was probably giving Wagle a highly-detailed and graphic explanation of Roman Catholic birth control practices. Y'all remember Wagle kind of enjoys that sort of thing. #heblowsalot

http://bit.ly/L8UeT8

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Agnostick 1 year, 10 months ago

Wow... here we go again. No links allowed, eh?

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Agnostick 1 year, 10 months ago

Brownback was probably giving Wagle a highly-detailed and graphic explanation of Roman Catholic birth control practices. Y'all remember Wagle kind of enjoys that sort of thing. #heblowsalot

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yourworstnightmare 1 year, 10 months ago

I am not necessarily in support of this exercise, but by their reactions it sure appears as if Wagle and other GOP legislators have something to hide.

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Sparko 1 year, 10 months ago

Brownback's middle name is corruption. Malfeasance is his avocation. Being a complete and utter dolt is just a feature, not a bug to the Koch Brothers.

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hujiko 1 year, 10 months ago

"go find a job somewhere else" -Governor Blowsalot

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