Thursday, October 12, 2006

Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline accused of violating meetings act & lying during chat

The darling of the Religious Right -- Phill Kline -- seems to be stumbling over his tongue.

Associated Press reports today:

Attorney General Phill Kline violated the state's open meetings law by talking privately last year with Kansas State Board of Education members and has misrepresented what a news media attorney said about the issue, that attorney

Mike Merriam, a Topeka attorney who has represented the Kansas Press Association, The Associated Press and The Topeka Capital-Journal, made his comments Tuesday in response to remarks Kline wrote during an Internet chat
session (with the Lawrence Journal-World).

Polls show the race between Republican Kline and Democrat Paul Morrison to be neck and neck.

Note: That for some reason known only to blogger, I can't get this item to post if I include the url in the normal way. So you can find the AP story here:


justthefacts said...

Old news, from 2005. There were accusations by Mike Merriam and the press that General Kline violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act KOMA) - there are a lot more out there.

Article (only one???) reporting the Shawnee District Attorney's decision that no violation occurred:

There was a rush to accuse conservative officials of violating a law; and in doing so the facts and the law were consistently misstated.
The Democrat Representative (Hensley) gleeful made a complaint to the DA about the alleged violation. It was investigated by a DA who is no friend of AG Kline's or the conservative school board members. And he said the KOMA had not been violated. But no one cared about the law. They only cared about having rotten eggs to throw.

When the DA exonerated the body and AG Kline, that was hardly commented upon, except to take another swipe "well, he tried hard to comply, huh?" Like trying to comply with the law is a bad thing???

And of course everyone who dislikes Kline suspects (says) there was a cover-up. Because it didn't come up as they wanted. Not because they read the law or knew all the facts.

Bottom line, today's politics are not about facts or even legitimate differences of civilly stated opinion.

It's all about emotion and appearances. "I feel it, strongly, therefore it is true!" should be the media (and most of the public's) motto! It's laziness. Pure and simple. Why think when the press or some political pundit (entertainer) can tell you what to think!?
Just on the OFF Chance that you or your readers care to become informed before leaping to conclusions:

Rules of the KOMA state that the law does not apply to a single individual or to discussions involving less than a majority of a quorum of a public body (one half of one half):


1. Is the group subject to the KOMA?--two concurrent requirements: K.S.A. 75-4318
1. All legislative and administrative bodies, state agencies, and political and taxing subdivisions.
2. Which receive or expend and are supported in whole or in part by public funds.
2. Specific Bodies Subject to the KOMA:
1. Political and Taxing Subdivisions include: cities, counties, townships (AG Opin. No. 81-288); school districts, community colleges (AG Opin. No. 81-258); watershed districts (AG Opin. No. 85-161); rural water districts (AG Opin. No. 88-97 and 89-91); drainage districts (AG Opin. No. 90-69); local historic preservation committees administering K.S.A. 75-2724 (AG Opin. No. 99-22).
2. State Agencies and Boards, unless otherwise provided by statute.

Thus, the school board is subject to the KOMA, but the AG is not.

If the body is subject to the KOMA, the Act applies when there is a meeting. A meeting is defined as: (1) a gathering, assembly, telephone call or any other means of interactive communication; (2) by a majority of a quorum of the membership of an agency or body; (3) for the purpose of discussing the business or affairs of the body. K.S.A. 75-4317a. If all 3 elements are present (involving a group subject to the KOMA), then the discusssion should be open and notice provided to those requesting notice of meetings.

If one or more of the 3 elements of a meeting is missing (say the interactive discussion did not include a majority of a quorum of the body...), then the KOMA does not apply to the discussion! Period.

The two AG opinions that got so much attention at the time are 98-26 and 98-49; both on serial communications.

Most of the people who were arguing that the principles in these two opinions applied and proved a violation had not even read them (to this day they have not done so). But the author of them (Steve Phillips) stated they did not apply as the press was applying them in this situation.

These AG opinions state, and the DA agreed, that such serial communications involved "carrying tales" between a majority of a quorum. That did not happen in this situation. Thus, the DA concluded that the school board did not violate the KOMA (The AG cannot violate the KOMA: it doesn't apply to single inviduals; otherwise talking to yourself is a problem).

That state of the law did not stop the press (and their well paid private attorney) from saying there had been a violation of the KOMA, long before any investigation was done, let alone concluded.

How would you like it if you were accused of violating the law, any law, before the facts were all obtained or based upon false understanding of what the law requires or prohibits!! If it happened to you, you'd probably be suing someone for lible/slander!

Diane Silver said...

Thanks for the long comment. I appreciate all the detail and will look at it when I have time.

The only thing I have to add right now is that this isn't old news. Mike Merriam is making the point that Kline misrepresented Merriam's comments in a chat with the Lawrence Journal-World this week. Merriam also believes Kline broke the law and said so, this week.

Personally, I can't tell you if Kline violated the letter of the law, but serial meetings certainly violates the spirit of it.

Again, I always appreciate comments and information. Thanks for posting.

Diane Silver said...

Forgot, I have one more thing...

Why are you posting anonymously? What do you have to hide?

By hiding your identity, you leave yourself wide open to the assumption that you're with the Kline campaign. So how, "just the facts" can you be?

Come back, let us know who you are, and then we can judge your motives.

Again, it's always nice to have a comment.

Snoop said...

Now this is funny

“Personally, I can't tell you if Kline violated the letter of the law, but serial meetings certainly violates the spirit of it.”

Never mind the fact that you just got blasted with very specific information.

“Merriam also believes Kline broke the law and said so, this week.”

He (Kline) clearly did not but that fact is totally lost on you.

Then you add…

“by hiding your identity, you leave yourself wide open to the assumption that you're with the Kline campaign.”

Ok let’s assume this individual is with the Kline campaign, if the facts presented are just and correct does that really matter?

A great number of individuals post anonymously for a number of reasons on both sides of the political spectrum. Does an anonymous post deserve less credibility?

You obviously have great disdain for right leaning types, but I have no issue with that because I don’t hide my contempt for liberals. But the thing that makes blogs unique is the exchange of information from more than just mainstream media sources.
You a former newspaper reporter, and your obvious contempt for the facts explains the deterioration of fishwrap revenues.
Unfortunately individuals like yourself still work in the newsrooms, ignoring facts and promoting their own agenda.
Feel free to hate Kline, be Pro Democrat, hate the right, but not responding to pure facts leaves your credibility a little tattered.
My first trek to your blog you write a rambling anti American diatribe,
“I woke up today, and the first thing I thought was: I am a woman without a country.”
and now ignoring facts when confronted... typical liberalism.

Diane Silver said...

Hi Snoop.

It's always a pleasure to hear from you.

I don't have disdain for those on the right. I do have disdain for those who don't have the courage to stand up and speak openly about what they believe.

While it isn't unusual to post anonymously on a blog, it does show a certain lack of spine. Futhermore, it also shows that a person isn't interested in taking responsibility for his or her actions and opinions.

By the way, now that I'm home from work, I've had a chance to look at the material this person posted.

Very interesting. It shows that Kline was never prosecuted and was officially cleared.

He did not break the letter of the law, however, the links show that he had a certain level of contempt for the law, but I'm going to post about that later. Stay tuned.

Have a great Friday night, Snoop!