Prosecutors must take KOMA more seriously.
Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor and his staff have determined any violations of the Kansas Open Meeting Act by legislators who attended dinners hosted by Gov. Sam Brownback at Cedar Crest were "technical" in nature and "borne of ignorance."
No legal action will be taken in the wake of Taylor's investigation.
In essence, that means legislators violated the law by discussing public business at the dinners but will not suffer any consequences because they didn't know any better.
Maybe some of them didn't know any better, but some did. And Kansans now must be wondering how long their elected officials will be able to wink at, or turn a blind eye to, the Kansas Open Meetings Act and receive nothing more than an admonishment and a recommendation they become more familiar with the law's particulars. ...
The Kansas Open Meetings Act was adopted to ensure elected officials at the local and state level conduct the public's business in full view of the public. The law prohibits a majority of a quorum of a legislative body from meeting behind closed doors to discuss business. Multiple local governing bodies have violated the law, and many legislators did so during the dinners at Cedar Crest. ...
House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, said he was pleased with Taylor's report and "had nothing but confidence that our legislators adhered to the guidelines laid out in KOMA while at the governor's residence."
That statement must have been borne of ignorance of what was in Taylor's report, because the report makes it plain violations did occur. ...
Taylor's report also noted most of the legislators questioned during his investigation were represented by the Kansas attorney general's office and many legislators couldn't remember the substance of much of the discussion at the dinners.
What Taylor's report didn't say is that in law enforcement circles that's known as "lawyering-up" and "dummying-up." The prosecutors on Taylor's staff are familiar with the tactics, but they aren't in the habit of allowing ignorance of the law as an excuse, or defense.
It's time Taylor and other prosecutors across the state begin treating KOMA violations more seriously.
-- The Topeka Capital-Journal