Kansas Press Association frustrated with findings that Brownback’s meetings with legislators didn’t ‘substantially’ violate law

Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor found Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Republican legislators didn’t “substantially” violate the Kansas Open Meetings law when the met privately for a series of dinners at the governor’s mansion. The AP reports:

Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor said technical violations of the Kansas Open Meetings Act may have occurred but that legislators had not acted in bad faith because they didn’t fully understand the law.

The report from Taylor’s office criticized legislators, but representatives of news organizations saw it as a hollow victory, saying they’ve come to expect strong words but little real enforcement of the open meetings law.

The findings frustrate Doug Anstaett, executive director of the Kansas Press Association, who told the AP the findings are “a hollow victory.” He told the Topeka Capital-Journal, “”Once again, the decision rendered has been an acknowledgement that a technical violation of the law occurred, coupled with a plea to get more training and an admonition to go and sin no more.”

Anstaett said KOMA is meant to keep majorities of legislative bodies from discussing the public’s business outside of the public eye, and the dinners fit that description.

“While they didn’t make decisions at the governor’s mansion, they got a face-to-face pep talk about how critical Mr. Brownback’s agenda was to the future of the state of Kansas,” Anstaett said. “If that’s not a discussion of the people’s business, I don’t know what is.”

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