Democratic Leaders Say Revenue Department Mailings 'Not Appropriate'

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Kansas Democratic leaders are crying foul over a mailer sent out by Gov. Sam Brownback's administration the week before the General Election.

The brochure was sent by the Kansas Department of Revenue as an informational piece about tax changes taking effect January 1, 2013. Inside, the mailer contains information about the tax changes.

Some of the concern from democrats comes from the outside page of the brochure, with quotes from a Wall Street Journal editorial, and lines like, "This bold action will give small businesses across our state more money to reinvest in their businesses - and provide a jolt of adrenaline to the heart of the Kansas economy."

House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D-Lawrence) and Kansas Democratic Party Chair Joan Wagnon called a news conference Friday morning to discuss their issues with the mailer. Among those are the cost, the timing, and the look of the mailer.

Rep. Davis said approximately 146,000 Kansas business entities received the mailer six days before the election. He said they cost more than $52,000 of taxpayer money. Wagnon, former Dept. of Revenue Secretary, said the look of this mailer is much more like a campaign ad than that of the "normal" mailers sent out to let people know about legislative changes.

Revenue department spokesperson Jeannine Koranda said Friday most of the department's informational pieces are posted online, but this is different because "it is a significant change to the tax code." She said the mailings were designed to be "eye-catching" because the department didn't want them to end up in the bottom of a trash can without being read. "We were finding people didn't know about changes or what they needed to do," Koranda said.

Gov. Brownback said in a meeting in September, Department of Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan said during routine outings and group events, they were finding people had many questions about the tax changes, so he said the KDOR was working on a mailer to address questions.

Wagnon and Davis also expressed concern with the timing; the mailer arrived six days before the general election. "Since this income tax bill doesn't go into effect this year, I don't know what information in here is so urgent that it would require it to be sent six days before the election," Wagnon said.

Gov. Brownback and Koranda both said the timing was by chance. The process started in mid-September and the department didn't want to waste anytime getting it mailed out before the holidays and end of the year.

Wagnon said she is gathering information to decide if she will file a complaint. She is also considering asking for a legislative post audit, or asking the Kansas Attorney General to "look at the standards for government promotion of a political issue as opposed to an informational issue."