WICHITA — Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said Tuesday that he will talk with the FBI if he is contacted about a reported investigation into allegations about the awarding of contracts to privatize the state’s Medicaid program.
The Republican governor told The Associated Press that he has also directed state employees to cooperate fully if they are contacted by the FBI.
“If I am asked, I will cooperate and talk with them, but I think this is mostly about a smear campaign,” Brownback said. “And that’s what I have seen of the allegations.
Several news outlets including the AP have reported the existence of an FBI probe into the activities of Brownback confidante David Kensinger and his Topeka firm, Parallel Strategies, which he and two former Brownback staffers formed last year.
Brownback said he does not know of anyone who has been contacted by federal agents regarding the reported allegations.
Kensinger left the administration in April 2012 as it was considering five bids from private companies seeking one of the three contracts to manage the state’s Medicaid program, since renamed KanCare, an initiative headed by Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer.
Three private companies are now overseeing the management of the $3-billion-a-year program, which provides health coverage for the needy and disabled.
Near the end of June 2012, the administration awarded contracts to Kansas subsidiaries of Amerigroup Corp., based in Virginia Beach, Va.; Centene Corp., which has its headquarters in St. Louis; and United Healthcare, based in Minneapolis.
“If we are contacted, if I am contacted, we will cooperate. The office will cooperate,” Brownback said. “And really, I kind of hope they do contact people if the charges are about KanCare, because we have gone through a bidding process on KanCare — open bidding.”
FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton has said repeatedly that the agency never confirms or denies the existence of an investigation.
Kensinger’s ties to Brownback go back two decades, before Brownback won a seat in the U.S. Senate. Kensinger managed Brownback’s successful Senate re-election campaign in 1998 and later served has the chief of staff in his Senate office.
Kensinger managed Brownback’s 2010 campaign for governor and served as chief of staff in the governor’s office until returning to lobbying and private consulting. He also serves as president of Road Map Solutions, a nonprofit group supporting Brownback.