DA Finds No 'Substantive Violation' Of Open Meetings Act At Cedar Crest Dinners

By: 13 News Email
By: 13 News Email

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The Shawnee County District Attorney's office has wrapped its investigation into whether Governor Sam Brownback and several members of legislative committees violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act by discussing business at a series of dinners at the Governor's official residence, Cedar Crest.

All legislative bodies are subject to the KOMA, which states Kansas meetings be open to the public because "a representative government is dependent upon an informed electorate." A gathering is classified as a meeting and subject to the KOMA when a majority of the membership gets together -in person, by phone, or through any other medium - to discuss the business or affairs of the body or agency.

The Topeka Capital-Journal lodged a complaint with DA Chad Taylor's office in January in regards to what the Governor and legislatures called dinners, or social gatherings, at Cedar Crest with members of 13 legislative committees. More than 90 lawmakers were invited, all but one of them Republican.

In a letter Tuesday, Taylor wrote the following: "Based on our investigation, we did confirm that there were occasions during the dinners specified in your letter (from the Capital-Journal) where a majority of a public body were present or participated in a discussion about business that was or would be brought before that body; however, we could not conclude that any one of the attending legislators committed a substantive violation of KOMA."

Kansas House Speaker Mike O'Neal (R-Hutchinson) responded to the findings Tuesday. "I am pleased the result of the district attorney’s investigation found no substantive violations of KOMA. I had nothing but confidence that our legislators adhered to the guidelines laid out in KOMA while at the Governor’s residence,” said Speaker O’Neal.

The 10-page report and letters to and from District Attorney Chad Taylor's Office are attached.

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