Kansas Liberty: 18 December 2008
Commission reacts after campaign finance complaints are discussed with journalists
Talking to press attracts Ethics Commission ire
The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission has filed a complaint against a man for comments he made to the press concerning a campaign finance-related complaint he filed with the commission.
Kris Van Meteren filed a complaint with the commission in September, suggesting Sen. Dwayne Umbarger, R-Thayer, had apparently used $1,738 of his campaign finances to pay for a carport instead of a storage facility.
The expenditure had been described as a charge for “legislative service, campaign signs and campaign information” in the finance report Umbarger filed.
The commission’s special investigator, William D. Beightel, filed two counts of violating complaint confidentiality against Van Meteren, who had served as campaign manager for his mother, Iris Van Meter, in her unsuccessful effort to unseat Umbarger in last August's primary.
The first count was filed for comments he made to Kansas Liberty and the second for comments to the Topeka Capital-Journal. Van Meteren could face fines of up to $5,000 for the first count and $10,000 for the second count.
Kansas Meadowlark reported that the commission scheduled the civil fine hearing for January 2009 at their monthly meeting that took place yesterday.
Carol Williams, executive director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, said that all complaints filed with the commission are confidential.
“The documentation that goes to the plaintiff and respondent states that information,” Williams told Kansas Liberty.
Williams said that, to her knowledge, the commission has never had to file a complaint for violating this provision of the campaign finance act before.
Van Meteren did not return Kansas Liberty’s requests for comment by press time.
Update and correction: This story was corrected to reflect a more accurate characterization of Kris Van Meteren's complaint and to correct the date of the commission's monthly meeting.
Kansas Meadowlark coverage: http://kansasmeadowlark.com/2008/12/17/1st-amendment-constitutional-right/Kansas Liberty's previous coverage: http://kansasliberty.com/liberty-update-archive/20oct2008/new-allegations-of-campaign-finance-irregularities-leveled-against-sen-umbarger/