Archive for Saturday, October 4, 2014

In strip-club case, typically closed records were released, GOP tipped off

October 4, 2014

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In most states, getting records about crimes that law enforcement has investigated is easy: Make a request and the authorities turn them over.

In Kansas, it’s usually not that easy.

The Legislature closed those records to the public more than 30 years ago, and if members of the public want incident reports and investigative files, they typically have to sue to get them. The cases can be expensive: Some have cost $25,000 or more.

So media law experts found it “amazing” when they learned that Montgomery County Sheriff Robert “Bobby” Dierks released investigative files from 1998 last month with just a records request.

“That is unusual,” said Mike Merriam, veteran media lawyer who works with the Kansas Press Association. “They have denied releasing records routinely over and over and over again.”

The files contained important information for the hotly contested gubernatorial race: Gov. Sam Brownback’s Democratic challenger, Paul Davis, of Lawrence, had been in a strip club years ago during a drug raid.

And before giving the records to the newspaper that had requested them, a county official alerted Brownback’s campaign. He wanted to “help out” a Republican, he said.

Dierks did not return phone calls seeking comment, but Montgomery County Attorney Larry Markle, a Republican, who advised the sheriff to release the records, agreed to an interview. County attorneys in Kansas are considered the custodian of records and often advise government officials on open-records issues.

“It was an economic decision,” Markle said, acknowledging the sheriff’s standard response to a records request is “no.” A lawsuit would have been expensive to defend, and the sheriff would probably have lost, Markle said he told Dierks.

Markle said that a rumor started about a month ago about Davis and the strip club when a man — whom he would not name — remembered the incident from 16 years ago and started talking about it.

“This man is the most apolitical person on the planet,” Markle said. “I will never mention that man’s name because he doesn’t need to be talking to reporters.”

But Coffeyville is a small community, about 10,000 people, and soon “everyone was talking” about the 16-year-old drug raid, he said.

Corey Kneedler is both editor and reporter at the Coffeyville Journal.

Kneedler said he got a call Sept. 15 from a man he knew, a person who he believed did not have a political agenda. The man told Kneedler to check clips from 1998 for a story about the drug raid and said Davis was at the club the night of the raid.

Kneedler did, but the story listed only people who were arrested, so Davis’ name was not in the story. In an unusual move, Kneedler decided to file a records request.

“What’s funny, I have never requested records before,” said Kneedler, who has been at the newspaper for three years. “This was the first time.”

When the sheriff received the request, he immediately took it to Markle, the county attorney.

When Markle learned about the newspaper request, Markle said he called the Brownback campaign and told them about the strip-club raid. Timothy Keck, chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, then also filed a request for the records.

Markle said he called the campaign because the sheriff was going to release the records, he is a Republican, and he was helping out a Republican.

“We knew 100 percent we were going to get sued … so I called the Republican Party,” Markle said.

Markle said he didn’t know anyone who planned to file a lawsuit at the time he advised the sheriff to release the records, but he was sure once media outlets somehow learned about the case, they would sue to get the records.

“We knew multiple sources would go further if we didn’t release them,” Markle said. “You have to ask are you going to spend county money defending a lawsuit that you know that you are going to lose?”

Within 48 hours, the sheriff located the 16-year-old, 150-page file, read it, redacted passages, made copies and mailed them to the newspaper and to Brownback’s campaign.

Opposition research

To understand how the records were released so easily is to understand how serious these campaigns are, said Bob Beatty, political science professor at Washburn University.

“We are talking not just millions of dollars and people’s jobs but serious vested interests on public policy,” Beatty said. “In these modern campaigns, campaign staff is poring through records.”

Campaigns budget money for “opposition research.” People are hired who spend hours quietly researching all kinds of records, police reports, court records and financial dealings to dig up dirt on candidates.

They then turn over that information to a reporter or others who will get it publicized.

The silver lining could be that in the strip club case, the county attorney unwittingly set a new legal precedent that law enforcement should make police files more accessible to the public in the future, said Mike Kautsch, a Kansas University law professor and former journalism school dean.

“This is a fine precedent,” he said. “This is a model of how the law is intended to work. The records custodian exercised discretion in favor of openness, and the requester doesn’t have to take legal action to be informed.”

The battle over police records has been ongoing since the late 1970s, when the Legislature closed them because a Topeka newspaper reported the names of two fugitives. Law enforcement blamed the newspaper because one of the men was never found.

This year the Legislature agreed to open police-arrest affidavits and search-warrant affidavits to the public, but did not address incident and investigative reports. Open-records advocates, including the group that represents news organizations, will ask the Legislature next year to open those records, too.

The strip club case

The Coffeyville Journal does not have a website, but the online political news site Politico and others picked up the Davis story in late September.

According to the Politico report, which cited the Coffeyville Journal, Davis was seen and identified by undercover police officers with a woman in the VIP room of a strip club in Coffeyville called “Secrets,” also known as Club 169, on Aug. 5, 1998. Davis was 26 at the time, unmarried, and had just begun his law practice a few months earlier.

A few minutes after midnight on Aug. 5, police executed a search warrant after an informant said he had purchased drugs from the club owner, according to the story. The officer then reported that the male in the VIP room identified himself as a Lawrence attorney who represented the owner of the club, according to Politico.

In a statement, Davis did not deny that he was there, but said he did nothing illegal and had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Comments

Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

Rotten politics beyond belief which speaks to the ethics of the Brownback administration or lack thereof. Low down and dirty.

Paul Davis apparently was hired as a defense attorney to represent his client. What's wrong with that?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 2 months ago

M. Lindeman, Read Richard's post below. These are the real issues. Not whether a young man went to a strip club with his law firm boss, whose firm represented the owner. Richard has posted about the real issues. That is not dirty politics. You decide if you think that getting our bond rating downgraded is a good thing, then vote for Brownback. If you don't, vote for Davis. If you think that businesses that use our highways, police, and fire shouldn't have to help pay for these things, then vote for Brownback. If you think they should pay their fair share, then vote for Davis. And please tell me what Davis has done that is comparable?

Carol Bowen 3 years, 2 months ago

Give me an example of the other side doing the same thing.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

A second bond rating agency has downgraded Kansas’ standing because of declining revenues following massive income tax cuts signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback.

Standard & Poor’s on Wednesday morning reduced the state’s credit rating a notch to AA from AA+, citing a structural imbalance between revenues and spending in the state’s budget.

The bond rating agency said the state’s failure to match the income tax cuts with reductions in spending will leave the state with dangerously low reserves.

Analysts projected that the state could burn through its reserves this fiscal year, putting more pressure on lawmakers to cut the budget.

In May, Moody’s Investors Service cited similar concerns when it reduced the state’s bond rating one level because of mounting financial pressure on the Kansas state budget, partly because of the income tax cuts.

But Moody’s warned that cutting spending might not be easy given the court-ordered spending on schools, keeping up with Medicaid demands and funding pensions.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/government-politics/article1138180.html#storylink=cpy

Bob Smith 3 years, 2 months ago

Psst, Richard, this story is about the Senate race, not our governor. Did you even read the story before posting?

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 2 months ago

Psst,.....Bob! Davis is running for GOVERNOR!!! We have another, different reprobate running for reelection to the Senate.

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 2 months ago

Bob, I was positive Davis was running for governor. At least in my universe, isn't he in yours or is the candidate against brownie Obama in your reality?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 2 months ago

Bob are you another tea party uninformed voter? You need to look up and see who is running for what office.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

Sam Brownback believed that eliminating 2000 state employees shrinks the size of government which is a myth. What is not a myth is that eliminating 2000 employees did shrink the states economic growth.

What shrinks the size of government is less of Sam Brownback's personal agenda into our private lives. The Paul Davis story is a perfect example of such. I am far more concerned of BIG state government intruding into our personal lives than I will ever be of our tax dollars keeping working class people on the job thus putting those tax dollars back into our communities and local banks.

The Paul Davis story has nothing to do with anything as Paul Davis was there on the business of meeting with a client. Was the Brownback administration seeking malicious intent? Why did we people need to know this? We the people did not need to know this.

Sam Brownback believed that eliminating 2000 employees shrinks the size of government which is a myth. What is not a myth is that eliminating 2000 employees did shrink the states economic growth.

The cost of government did not shrink because the cost of services those 2000 employees performed still needed to be accomplished. How much did this add to the budget? Who was hired to perform the services? .

The cost of moving once state services to corporate tax dollar supported enterprises will rise and not be spent as efficiently. That's right some of our tax dollars will now be spent on campaign contributions, CEO's,Shareholders,Golden Parachutes,advertising,corporate jets etc etc etc. Kansas taxpayers cannot afford such luxuries.

Again some of our tax dollars may likely go to special interest campaign cookie jars. Perhaps the Brownback Campaign Cookie Jar. Is it possible? Who knows?

Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

Why would America want their Social Security Insurance converted to Wall Street?

--- Social Security Q&A - Separating Fact from Fiction http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2010/0111orr.html

Bob Smith 3 years, 2 months ago

That's the sort of political business that got the current resident of 1600 Penn Ave into the Senate in 2004. Google "Jack Ryan" for the details.

Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 2 months ago

Bob, I have read every Tom Clancy book. Do you mean the books or the movie that came out this year?

Bob Smith 3 years, 2 months ago

I'm talking about the reality of the dirty tricks of Chicago politics.

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 2 months ago

Do not attempt to confuse Bob with reality. After all he obviously is a Fox junkie or a Koch paid nutcase.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 2 months ago

Sumpthin wrong with the "current resident" of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.??? I thought that the President was not running for any office in Kansas. (???)

All the Koch Industries Regime Republicans can do is bash and trash the President of the United States.

.They do not have anything positive to offer in their bash and trash TV ads.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 2 months ago

We are not talking about the Senate. Brownback is the governor of Kansas. Paul Davis is running against for governor of Kansas. Please try to keep up.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 2 months ago

I have to laugh at stories that Republicans can dredge up like this one. If it were illegal to drop by a strip club,(For any reason!!) half or more of the current elected officials would be in jail. The thought that this could change the perception of the current governor and his failed administration should hinge on a dubious tale regarding an incident that allegedly happened years ago is laughable. Of course some tightly laced individuals will applaud this attempt to bash the DemocraTIC candidate for governor, but hopefully more reasonable and cool sensibilities will prevail.

Steve Jacob 3 years, 2 months ago

Too much focus the strip club issue, lets focus on Paul Davis being such a boring candidate. Greg Orman needs to teach him how to run for major office with a little bit of charisma. Plus Brownback is fighting for his job, I think Roberts is playing dead.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 2 months ago

Brownback has charisma? Hitler had charisma. Jim Jones had charisma. I want someone who is practical and represents Kansas, not rich donors. I don't need these phony "celebrity" politicians. They spend too much time preening and getting press time, and not enough time governing.

Lawrence Freeman 3 years, 2 months ago

brownback has all the charisma of a cow pie.

James Howlette 3 years, 2 months ago

Now, now. He's got very, very nice hair. Just like his buddy Perry.

James Howlette 3 years, 2 months ago

I think you're right about Davis. He's playing it too safe. He's not fighting to repeal the terrible tax cut but proposing to "freeze" it, for example. His entire candidacy is based on the fact that he's not Brownback. Ok, tell us who you are. Stand for something.

Phil Minkin 3 years, 2 months ago

The Brownback campaign loves the strip club (non)issue because they have such a terrible record to try and run on.

Lynn Grant 3 years, 2 months ago

Just another Republican doing a favor for another Republican. But what if the story had been about a Republican? I'm sure it would never have seen the light of day.

Greg DiVilbiss 3 years, 2 months ago

Using this as a strategy seems to be working. Paul Davis's lead in the polls has narrowed quite a bit...You have to wonder what will be coming this month from Brownback that he thinks will put him over the top.

Cynthia Schott 3 years, 2 months ago

This news really helps me count my blessings that I no longer live in Kansas. Not that politics other places are nicer, but I could not take more rule in Brownbackistan. Pay no attention to the smiling man. His smile is a mockery. He would not have liked Jesus.

Emily Hadley 3 years, 2 months ago

You know things are bad when Kansans can't even keep track of which race is which.

Lawrence Freeman 3 years, 2 months ago

All I know is I sure am glad that I never ran for a government office (other than a school board). The press would have had a hey day at my expense! Oh the stories I can tell! Heck, I was called into the principal's office many times. I was called into the Governor's office in the 90's. I was even invited to Cedar Crest for a barbeque . The big shots were spending thousands of dollars (in donations) for a few minutes of the Governor's time. I had over an hour for free.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 2 months ago

Well, they have opened pandora's box. Now if someone wants records they can't turn them down. They will be sued big time. All of you have been trying to get records now have an opening. Go for it. I think this is hilarious.

Bob Smith 3 years, 2 months ago

I get the stealth Democrat and the admitted Democrat mixed up.

James Howlette 3 years, 2 months ago

He doesn't bother evaluating candidates on an individual basis or for what they actually did or say they will do but instead allows partisan politics to do all the thinking for him.

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 2 months ago

Bob is the poster child for the voter that the GOP in Kansas is desperate for. Totally ignorant and who will believe any lies Fox of the tea drinkers spout.

Lawrence Freeman 3 years, 2 months ago

Bob is not stupid or a mouthpiece! He believes he is right just as I do. I think he is wrong but I respect his opinions!

James Howlette 3 years, 2 months ago

He needs to better demonstrate those qualities, particularly in this thread. Perhaps he's just too distracted by the constant need to whine about Richard. The two of them should just get a room.

Andy Anderson 3 years, 2 months ago

Any man proven to have been oogling at naked women, at any age, is a resume enhancement in my book. Enlightened, Complex critical thinkers should be pleased with Davis's oogling.

Carol Bowen 3 years, 2 months ago

Now, let me get this straight.

  • The local newspaper reporter, Kneedler, followed up on a tip after an "unbiased" person called about an old incident. The old news story only named the guilty parties, rightly so. He followed up with a request for information. Why? Rumors.
  • The sheriff, Dierks, took the request to the city attorney, Markle. Why? Markle directed the sheriff to release the records. He feared an expensive law suit. Markle also alerted a Republican, Brownback, to help Brownback's campaign.
  • The sheriff, Dierks, located the records, redacted passages, and released the information, but evidently did not redact Davis' name.
  • Brownback's campaign distorted the incident.

Looks to me like there was collusion and several ethics violations.

  • The reporter is free to investigate whatever. His tip and his reporting do not seem to be unbiased.
  • The attorney can decide what records should be released. However, he used on-the-job government information in a biased manner for a biased use. That is unethical.
  • The sheriff redacted information, but failed to protect the name of at least one person, Davis, who was not arrested and was innocent of any crime. One has to wonder if any other names of innocent people were released. The purpose of redaction is to remove information that is personal or sensitive. The sheriff's actions were unethical. And, there was possible collusion with the county attorney.

Did I miss anything? When will we see some formal ethics complaints? There's way to much of this stuff going on.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 2 months ago

Very good summation, Carol. Thanks. Of course, we will not see anything happen on this, because I believe Kobach is probably in charge of voting ethics. I think Davis could probably sue this county. I guess Markie may get his lawsuit. And the first time a request is made of this county that isn't immediately released will also lead to a big lawsuit. Karma will get this guy. And I would think that anyone in Coffeyville wouldn't want to vote for Brownback anyway. I haven't heard he did a lot to try and entice the Amazon distribution center to stay. Lots of residents in that county will now be drawing unemployment.

Ned Wolfsosoon 3 years, 2 months ago

It was a "Better Call Saul" moment. He was working for a law firm defending the strip club owner. He was in the back room getting a sweaty lap dance when the cops raided the place and arrested the strip club owner/drug dealer.

I notice the feminists haven't piped in. Isn't women stripping for men for cash degrading towards women?

James Howlette 3 years, 2 months ago

I suspect the feminists are more concerned about retaining legal control of their own reproductive organs. Because having a doctor legally obligated to lie to you and perform medically unnecessary procedures seems just a little more degrading.

Ralph Reed 3 years, 2 months ago

Why is this on the front page of the LJW website ... AGAIN?

The Montgomery County clerk isn't the only one who "just wants to help out a Republican."

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 2 months ago

If records are closed by law without an FOIA request...by the legislature who, you know, MADE the law then... is this not...what's the word...oh yeah..ILLEGAL? In which case, why isn't the appropriate official who released the records, well, you know, UNDER ARREST?

Thomas Bryce Jr. 3 years, 2 months ago

Any one else get the Newest Flyer from The Republican Governors Association Kansas PAC? Straight from Pennsylvania Ave in Washington DC. It Reeks of fear and desperation. The Cherryvale Police Department Investigation Report they included on the flyer does not even show Davis's Name. He was not the subject of an investigation and was charged with no crime. "The best example of Future behavior is Past behavior". Well, then I have some questions about this Kansas Government's Past behavior. Thanks for pointing that simple fact out! Everyone Should question this for sure. Gov. Brownback:" With past behavior like this, imagine what the future would hold." Indeed!

Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

VOTING DAY PACKETS = Democracy NOW !

Sam Brownback and Kris Kobach have in place as we speak a plan to steal the election in Kansas. This plan has been working elsewhere in the USA. www.BallotBandits.org.

Voters must assume Brownback and Kobach may have purged YOU from the voting rolls.

Or will interrupt your mail in ballot. Or will try to turn away voters at the polls. www.BallotBandits.org.

Any way possible Sam Brownback and Kris Kobach want to steal this election no matter that this would be a federal crime.

We know that the Brownback/Kobach agenda is to keep voters from the polls. www.BallotBandits.org.

ORGANIZING A VOTING DAY PACKET might be a preventive measure which might include:

--- a birth certificate

--- a drivers license or state ID card

--- proof of voter registration etc etc etc.

--- Keep it close by as voting opportunities will occur about 4 times in the next 10 months.

Protect YOURSELF from GOP voting fraud and/or vote theft on election day.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

Vote the Paul Davis/Jill Docking ticket they are going to have a messy house to clean up.

Kansas needs Margie Wakefield in Congress

Vote Jean Schodorf for Secretary of State

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