TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Secretary of State Kris Kobach is asking a federal court to settle political redistricting issues for the Kansas Legislature.
Kobach made his request Wednesday in response to a federal lawsuit filed earlier this month over redistricting. Kobach, the state's chief elections officer, is the defendant in the case, which was filed by a Republican precinct committee member in Olathe.
He's asking that a panel of three judges impose plans to adjust the state's political boundaries.
Kobach's filing came shortly before a news conference he scheduled to discuss redistricting and only hours before the Senate was debate a plan for redrawing the chamber's 40 districts.
An impasse among majority Republicans in the Senate has prevented any redistricting proposals from passing and threatens to delay the state's Aug. 7 primary election.
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Attorneys on both sides of a federal lawsuit filed in Kansas over political redistricting have ties to House Speaker Mike O'Neal.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach filed his response Wednesday to the lawsuit from Robyn Renee Essex, a Republican precinct committee member from Olathe (oh-LAY'-thuh). Kobach is the only defendant, and his attorney is Ryan Kriegshauser, a deputy assistant secretary of state.
Kriegshauser's wife, Christie, is O'Neal's chief of staff.
One of Essex's attorneys is Brent Haden, of Columbia, Mo. Haden is a former chief of staff for O'Neal.
Both Kobach and O'Neal are conservative Republicans, and GOP conservatives are locked in a dispute with moderate Republicans over redrawing the Senate's 40 districts.
But Kobach said during a news conference that he doesn't know Essex and isn't consulting with O'Neal.
Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley:
“For nearly a year, Governor Sam Brownback and House Speaker Mike O’Neal have fervently and adamantly gerrymandered Senate districts in an attempt to ouster members of their own party in the upcoming election.
“By manipulating the system to their favor, Sam Brownback and Mike O’Neal once again have stifled progress being made by the Senate chamber.
“Kansas is now the only state in the nation to have not completed redistricting. As a result, the filing deadline has been postponed, and a very real threat of court-intervention hangs over our heads.
“Every day the legislature continues to meet, it costs the taxpayers of Kansas $63,000. It is unacceptable to force the people of Kansas to pay the price for this political power grab. It’s time for Sam Brownback and Mike O’Neal to let the Senate complete its work.”