The state's ethics commission ruled yesterday that then Attorney General Phill Kline didn't violate the law when his staff copied a list of emails and used them for a campaign mailing.
The unanimous ruling dealt only with whether or not Kline's staff used a state computer to do the copying. On the real issue - of whether this should be public information -- the commission declared that anytime people give their names and addresses to the state, anyone else can get access to that information.
What a truly horrible idea. Is this true of those who report child abuse or of people blowing the whistle on a problem in state government?
The state ethics commission has now taken this issue beyond Kline and made it a concern for everyone. In essence, what the commission seems to be saying is that I or anyone else can get access to your personal information if you contact state government. How can that be a good idea?
The Lawrence Journal-World reported:
"I'm disappointed, but it's up to the commission to interpret the law," said commission attorney Donna Voth.
However, Rep. Tom Sawyer, D-Wichita, said the law should be rewritten in response to the commission's decision.
"Clearly, when people are e-mailing state agencies, they're not expecting that person to turn their names into campaign lists," said Sawyer, the ranking Democrat on the House Elections and Governmental Organization Committee. "It's just wrong, if it technically violates the law or not. If it doesn't technically violate the law, we need to change the law."