The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission met yesterday to review several matters, including six fines and three advisory opinions.
Five civil fines were assessed for late receipts and expenditures reports:
- Josiah Johnson, candidate for State Rep, $130 fine for filing report 13 days late
- Mark Watson, treasurer for KS State Rifle Assn PAC, $120 fine for filing report 12 days late
- Sean Miller, treasurer for Douglas County Rep CC, $300 fine for not filing report
- Margaret Comeau, treasurer Capital Area Federation of Women’s Democratic Club, $300 fine for not filing report
- Jean Wikle, treasurer Sedgwick County Republican Women, $300 fine for not filing report
Waiver. Steven Langerot, the Chairman of “D” Wildones PAC (“a political support group for the Democratic Party”), appealed the Commission’s assessment of a $130 fine levied against the PAC in November. Langerot’s letter explained that the PAC had switched treasurer’s and that explained their failure to file on time. Ethics Commission Executive Director Carol Williams explained the real problem was the PAC chair, Mr. Langerot, had not filed an amended statement of organization with the name and address of the new treasurer. The Commission voted 8 yes and 1 no to waive half of the penalty, down to $65, if paid in the next 30 days.
Civil fine determination hearing. At the November Ethics Commission meeting, Commissioner Zimmerman made a motion that Jeff Locke, a Republican State Rep candidate in District 2 from Arma, be sent a reprimand letter for failing to put an attribution statement on a flyer reported to the Ethics Commission. On a substitute motion by Commissioner Emert, the Commission chose to hold a hearing on the matter at their December meeting yesterday.
Jeff Locke sent 40-50 flyers as an individual “testing the waters” after he was unopposed in the August primary in preparation for the November general election. Locke failed to include a “paid for by” attribution statement on these flyers.
Jeff Locke listens to statements by Ethics Attorney, Judy Moler
Locke’s understanding of a statute he cited was that he could “test the waters” as an individual and not include the statement as long as he spent less than $2500 per a cited statute. Locke tried to distinguish between this flyer he sent as an “individual” as a prototype, and later flyers sent by his committee that had the proper attribution statement. Locke thought he was still eligible to act as an “individual” even though he was a “candidate.”
Locke admitted that he had not attended any training sessions for candidates provided by the Ethics Commission.
Locke joked he would put the proper attribution even on his grocery list in the future.
After a brief executive session, the Commission voted 7 yes, 1 no, 1 abstention, to impose a $50 civil fine. This amounted to a fine of about $1/flyer that Locke sent out without proper attribution.
Report by Executive Director. Carol Williams reported that only 24 of the 120 missing statements of substantial interest were still missing. She credited an article by the Topeka Capital Journal for many returning the forms recently. Of the 24 missing, 12 are from KU, 9 from K-State, 2 others from other universities, and one was a board member in an unidentified group. Williams said the Board of Regents will discuss ways to encourage academics to return these reports in a more timely way in the future. Williams commented:
- The next round of reports are due on Jan 12, 2009, including ~1500 lobbying reports (for ~1400 lobbyists) and ~1200 candidate/PAC reports.
- The filing deadline for an expected 350 candidates for 1st class city offices are due Jan 27, 2009.
- Governor Sebelius plans to borrow part of idle fee funds.
Advisory Opinion Requests. The commission discussed and voted on three opinions prepare by the Commission’s attorney and Chairwoman:
- Dave Cromwell, EMS Operations Manager, Kansas Board of Emergency Medical Services, asked about being employed as a paramedic by EMS providers licensed, inspected and regulated by the Kansas Board of Emergency Medical Services given certain restrictions. Prepared advisory opinion passed on vote : 7 yes, 0, no
- Ade Oremosu, Counsel for Verizon Wireless, asked about rebate to universities. Amended advisory opinion passed on 8-0 vote.
- Ryan Vincent, General Counsel, Kansas Housing Resources Corporation asked about a solicitation. Amended advisory opinion passed on 9-0 vote.
[Update (12/27/2008): These opinions were published on pp. 1868-1870, Kansas Register, Vol. 27, No. 52, Dec 25 2008.]
Executive Session. After a fairly long executive session, which was not open to the public because of statutory confidentiality requirements, the following hearings were announced to be part of the next Commission meeting on Jan 21, 2009:
- 1:30 Complaint 429. Jean Wikle, Treasurer for Sedgwick County Republican Women, for failing to file receipts and expenditures report.
- 2:00 Complaint 430. Margaret Comeau, Treasurer for Capital Area Federation of Women’s Democratic Club, for failing to file receipts and expenditures report.
- 2:30 Complaint 424. Kristian D. Van Meteren. Two counts of breaking complaint confidentiality.
- 1st Amendment Constitutional Right may become issue in Kansas Ethics Commission Hearing in January. Silence the accuser?, Kansas Meadowlark, Dec 17, 2008.
- Dozens at colleges late in filing state disclosure report, Topeka Capital-Journal, Dec 14, 2008.
- 120 fail to file conflict of interest reports required by Kansas law, Kansas Meadowlark, Nov 26, 2008.