Today the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission meeting included a public hearing on a complaint against Carrol Haggard, a communications professor at Ft. Hays State University. Prof. Haggard failed to file a conflict of interest report, known as a Statement of Substantial Interests (SSI), which was due on April 30, 2008.
Ethics Commission Executive Director, Carol Williams, presented five exhibits detailing multiple requests to Prof. Haggard by certified mail, E-mail and telephone that he file this necessary form required by state law.
Mr. Haggard had not communicated at all with the Ethics Commission about the matter until the day before the hearing when he telephoned.
Prof. Haggard made this statement to the Commission:
“I apologize for taking your time. I made a mistake and I freely admit that. I used to be chair of the department, and I filled out the form I thought as a function of being chair of the department I’ve talked to other faculty members who don’t know what the form is, or have never filled it out. At Ft. Hays we have a conflict of interest statement that we have to have on file. I have no other outside employment. … I made a mistake. I admit my mistake.“
Commissioner Solbach asked Mr. Haggard if he had intentionally failed to file the SSI. Prof. Haggard dodged the question by saying he was not an attorney, and just didn’t file the statement since he was not longer chair of the department. He thought the form didn’t apply to him anymore.
Commission Chair Sabrina Standifer pushed for an explanation of why Prof. Haggard ignored five letters without any questions about them:
“At some point the red light would go off and you need to be doing something. But we didn’t hear from you until yesterday.” Is that correct?
“Yes, ma’am. I guess I made a mistake.”
Prof. Haggard brought a completed SSI for 2008, but was told an updated one is required to be filed by April 30, 2009.
After a secret executive session for deliberation, a motion was made to add a $300 fine to the existing $300 penalty. Prof. Haggard’s failure to file the necessary conflict of interest statement cost him $600.
In other business:
Executive Director’s Report, Carol Williams
There may be no action on ethics-related bills during this legislative session.
All 207 candidates for the spring elections have filed their reports, but 39 material errors and omissions notices have been mailed out.
The lobbyist report for January 2009 was about the same as January 2008, except for communications. The 2009 communications number was $105,000 compare with only about $4000 in 2008. This was due to a post card sent out by Phillip Morris in an attempt to fight higher taxes on cigarettes. Overall, about $352,500 was spent by lobbyists in Jan 2009, compared to $249,400 in Jan 2008.
About the same number of lobbyists are representing more clients this year since there are 70 new registrations.
Omitted “Paid for” attribution statements. The three candidates will all receive a letter about their omission:
- Robert Archer, Topeka City Council candidate
- Ken Thomas, Wichita City Council candidate
- Loren Pepperd, Manhattan City Commission candidate
Request for waiver of civil penalty. Mr. William David Cook, Wichita, candidate for state rep, asked for a waiver for a $60 civil penalty for a late report. A motion by Commissioner Solbach to reduce the penalty to $30 died for a lack of a second. The $60 penalty was not changed.
Civil penalty for late filing of various forms.
- $70, James Baldwin, Jr., candidate for city council
- $180, Aunesty Janssen, candidate for state rep
- $300, Timothy Bilbrey, candidate for sheriff
- $300, Katie Bilbrey, treasurer for Timothy Bilbrey
- $300, Dan Bowers, 2008 Lobbyist, National Assn of Home Inspectors, Heartland Chapter
- $300, Jeffrey McCarter, 2008 & 2009 Lobbyst, McCarter & Associates
A second hearing scheduled for today was dropped since the Ethics Commission cannot find a former professor from a state university, who failed to file a Statement of Substantial Interest.
Miscellaneous, Chair Sabrina Standifer
In a follow-up action from the February meeting, the Commission passed a motion to make available the documentation from the Kris Van Meteren case from February to the Attorney General and the Shawnee County District Attorney. The information will only be released if requested.
There has been no motion to appeal by Mr. Van Meteren, but the time for appeal has not yet expired.
- “Free Speech” May Cost Kansas Citizen $7500, Kansas Meadowlark, Feb 18, 2009.
- Kansas Democrats Ask, Ethics Commission OKs, Unlimited State Party Building Funds, Kansas Meadowlark, Feb 22, 2009.
Also published on the Salina Journal blog