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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

hujiko 2 years, 6 months ago

"go find a job somewhere else" -Governor Blowsalot

Sparko 2 years, 6 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.

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 6 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.

Phillbert 2 years, 6 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.

JackMcKee 2 years, 6 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.

appleaday 2 years, 6 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.

pace 2 years, 6 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.

dinglesmith 2 years, 6 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.

Tracy Rogers 2 years, 6 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?

joshupetersen 2 years, 6 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.

Larrytown 2 years, 6 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.

Joe Blackford II 2 years, 6 months ago

I disagree. The forensic audit pulled aside the curtain on at least one shady KBA member:

David R. Franz, VP Midwest Research Institute Global, did not vote on the 3 KBA contracts to MRIGlobal totaling $450K.

$200K for Strategy for NBAF as GOCO (Govt Owned, Contractor Operated).

When MRI gets that GOCO contract to run the NBAF (with that $ going to KC, MO); we can all be surprised that a member of the DHS Science & Technology Advisory Committee (Franz) never voted for his alma mater, KSU, to be the site of the NBAF; and that he never voiced his opinion that Plum Island Animal Disease Center was too far gone to update.

Larrytown 2 years, 6 months ago

James A. Snyder, managing partner of BKD LLP, said the audit raised no major issues with the authority’s investment programs or conflict of interest policies.

“Generally, we find things to be pretty good with a couple of exceptions that are noted in the report,” he said.

You might disagree with me but I'm going off the comments (see above) from the managing partner of the firm that conducted the audit. Again, very little (typical for an audit) came of this audit. The only thing that sticks out to me is the political circus (i.e. Wagle, Brownback, etc.) and the waste of Taxpayer's money ($960K).

The question (asked a long time ago by moderate Republicans/Democrats...they saw this coming) that now needs to be addressed is what kind of role did this political circus play in the lack of NBAF funding associated with the current White House budget? That's the big question that should fall at the lap of Brownback!

Joe Blackford II 2 years, 6 months ago

My perusal of the KBA "ethics" document led me to understand that the audacity to divulge a possible "trade" secret outside the KBA trumped any need to recuse members' participation in the entire process of selecting their own business to receive grants. As the KBA's "agricultural terrorism" expert, I'm sure no one paid any attention to any of Franz' motions to put $ into the pockets of his friends.

There has been way too much swept under the carpet on the selection of KS for the NBAF. The project is a "do-over" opportunity for those who failed to maintain the proper security & safety protocols to prevent the Anthrax Mailer's success as an award-winning DoD scientist & only successful bio-terrorist on US soil. In addition, it was placed under DHS & USDA so the the KSU Colonels would never again have to justify a budget to the Pentagon.

blindrabbit 2 years, 6 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.

Liberty275 2 years, 6 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.

marleys 2 years, 6 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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