Topeka — The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission on Wednesday dismissed a complaint against state Rep. Jan Pauls, D-Hutchinson, that she failed to list her rental property on state disclosure forms.
Pauls said she never intentionally tried to hide her ownership of the duplex but thought because she was losing money on the property she didn't have to report it on the Statement of Substantial Interest that elected officials are required to fill out and file with the Kansas secretary of state's office.
The Ethics Commission initially rejected an agreement between Pauls and commission General Counsel Camille Nohe to drop the complaint.
But after holding a hearing, the commission voted unanimously that Pauls did not violate state law.
During the hearing, Pauls said she didn't intentionally try to violate the law, and she had nothing to gain by not reporting the property.
Lindsborg resident Ryon Carey filed the complaint, saying, "I believe this is a particularly egregious offense by Mrs. Pauls as she is a licensed and practicing attorney, has been a legislator for 21 years, and served at least one term as a District Court judge."
Pauls had purchased the property in 2006 and failed to put it on her from until earlier this year after the complaint was filed.
When federal judges re-drew state House districts, Pauls was drawn out of her longtime district, so she moved into a church she and her husband owned in her former district. The Kansas Equality Coalition filed an objection to her candidacy, and during a hearing Pauls noted that she owned the duplex near the church.
Pauls said she rents out half of the duplex to an elderly woman for $200 per month.
Pauls said that because she loses money on the property, she didn't list it on the form.
Several commission members said Pauls should have known that despite taking a loss, the rent was still income.
"I don't understand how that is not clear," said Commissioner Mark Simpson.
But commissioners also said that Pauls did not intentionally break the law.