Topeka Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor has finished interviewing legislators and is talking to Gov. Sam Brownback's staff in his investigation into whether dinners at the governor's mansion violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act, according to a spokesman for Taylor.
Taylor is investigating seven dinners held at Cedar Crest, the governor's official residence, in January. Republican members of 13 committees attended the dinners, which sometimes combined two or three committees with related policy missions.
"I think we're getting to the point where we're getting closer (to the end of the investigation)," spokesman Lee McGowan told The Topeka Capital-Journal.
Taylor, a Democrat, launched the investigation after receiving a complaint from The Capital-Journal and the Kansas Press Association.
Documents obtained by the newspaper from the attorney general's office said 54 members of the Kansas House of Representatives attended at least one of the dinners and 43 of them accepted legal representation from the office of Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican.
The list was obtained through an open records request filed with the attorney general's office. It was part of an email that Rita Mailen, 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.
Joshua Lewis, an assistant to Senate President Steve Morris, said he believed there was no organized effort among senators to arrange representation. Some had their own attorneys present during questioning and others declined representation.
Brownback has said he discussed his policy priorities for the session and took questions and comments from legislators at the dinners, but that his staff was careful to ensure that the meetings didn't violate the open meetings law.
Taylor has said the open meetings act doesn't apply to Brownback because he isn't a member of the committees in question.