Archive for Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Kansas budget director accessed state email

October 20, 2015

— Records show that Kansas' budget director used his state email during a holiday break last year, raising questions about his claim that he used a personal account to email lobbyists during that time because he didn't have access to his official state account, a newspaper reported.

The Wichita Eagle reported that the records it obtained through an open records request shows that Gov. Sam Brownback's budget director, Shawn Sullivan, had access to his official state email account just before Christmas last year when he used his private account to email a draft of the governor's budget and tax plan to two lobbyists.

When asked in January why he used private email for that purpose, Sullivan said: "Why it was done on personal e-mail was because it was done while I was at home on Christmas."

The newspaper requested the records in February and obtained them this month.

Speaking on behalf of Sullivan, Brownback's spokeswoman, Eileen Hawley, told the newspaper in an email that Sullivan used a private email to send the budget information because of the technology he was using.

"Mr. Sullivan frequently sends and responds to short messages using the work e-mail account on his phone when he is not in the office," she said. "The e-mails you asked about were lengthy messages that included Excel spreadsheets, written when he was away from the office, and he was not able to send these more complex messages from his cell phone."

Hawley also said Sullivan "now uses a work laptop to send any such messages through his official e-mail account when he is not in the office."

The Kansas Press Association expressed concern about the findings.

"I mean if he had a choice of sending it on either one, and he sent it on his private e-mail, it looks as if he's trying to avoid public scrutiny," said Rich Gannon, the Press Association's director of government affairs.

Sullivan later argued in an email that if his message about the budget was sent on his government account, it would have been covered by an exemption in the Kansas Open Records Act, which protects policy drafts.


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