League of Women Voters seeks governor's schedule
TOPEKA (AP) — The League of Women Voters of Kansas has filed an open records request for the schedules of three state officials, including Gov. Sam Brownback and his nominee to serve on the Kansas Court of Appeals. They're seeking information on who was considered for the post.
Brownback on Tuesday nominated his chief counsel, Caleb Stegall, to serve on the court. Under a new law, the governor did not release the names of others applicants for the position.
The League of Women Voters said its open records request is for the schedules of Brownback, Stegall and the governor's Appointments Director Kim Borchers between July 15 and Aug. 16. The group's state president Dolores Furtado told The Lawrence Journal-World that it wants to check Brownback's claim that Stegall was the most qualified out of the 13 people applicants.
"Gov. Brownback claims that Mr. Stegall is the most qualified choice for the Court of Appeals among 13 applicants who were interviewed," Furtado said. "As President Ronald Reagan once said, 'trust, but verify."'
Furtado said taxpayers have a right to know what their elected officials and their staff are doing on taxpayers' behalf. She said if the meetings took place with applicants for the appeals court, then there should be no issue with releasing the calendars.
Brownback appointed Stegall, 41, to be his chief when he took office in 2011.
Stegall is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September when legislators meet in special session to consider a change to the state's "Hard 50" prison sentence. He has been given a questionnaire by Senate Vice President Jeff King, chairman of the committee, regarding his background and qualifications, including examples of his legal writings and any statements Stegall may have made to the media.
The process for nominating appeals court judges was changed earlier this year, replacing a nominating commission system. The commission took applications for the position, conducted interviews and forwarded the names of three applicants to the governor, which were made public.
Brownback has declined to make the applicants' names public, saying it would hurt the chances of getting some qualified individuals to apply.