Thursday, August 22, 2013

League of Women Voters seeks governor’s schedule to find out who else was interviewed for appeals judge

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

TOPEKA, KAN. — The League of Women Voters of Kansas today criticized Gov. Sam Brownback for keeping secret the selection process that led to his nomination of his chief counsel Caleb Stegall to the Kansas Court of Appeals, and the group is asking to see the names of other candidates the governor considered for the judgeship.

“Governor Brownback claims that Mr. Stegall is the most qualified choice for the Court of Appeals among 13 applicants who were interviewed,” said the league's state president Dolores Furtado. “As President Ronald Reagan once said, ‘trust, but verify.’"

The organization has filed a request under the state Open Records Act for the schedules of Brownback, Stegall and the governor's Appointments Director Kim Borchers from July 15 to Aug. 16.

"Taxpayers have a right to know what public officials and their agents are doing on their behalf. If these meetings actually happened, there should be no problem releasing the calendars as required under the law," Furtado said.

Under a new law that was pushed for by Brownback and Stegall, the governor nominates Court of Appeals judges with Senate confirmation.

Under the former law, a nominating commission accepted applications, vetted applicants and conducted interviews before forwarding to the governor three names from which the governor selected.

The nominating commission had made public the names of those applying and those who made the final cut.

Brownback has refused to do that. He said revealing the names would make some qualified applicants shy away from applying. "You limit your pool of applicants," he said.

On Tuesday, Brownback selected Stegall, 41, to a slot on the state's second-highest court. It was the governor's first appointment under the new law.