OK, would everyone who by now is getting tired of turkey sandwiches raise their hand? And, while we’re at it, would everyone who is tired of those aimless charges of “government corruption” raise their hand?

Well, that second question apparently has got but one elected official in the state with a hand in the air.

And those elected officials, or at least those who manage the affairs of the Kansas Legislature, are tired of being referred to as corrupt in political speeches — primarily those made by Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who, after two terms in that office, is seeking the Republican nomination for governor next year.

Kobach uses the corruption phrase in most of his speeches and in campaign material, and lawmakers have had enough of it. The implication is that nearly everyone who isn’t Kobach is corrupt.

So, the Legislative Coordinating Council made up of the top leaders of the Kansas Senate and the Kansas House of Representative decided last June to write a stern letter to Kobach to tell him to either identify corrupt government leaders or quit using that phrase.

It’s literally a “put up or shut up” order to Kobach, and a stern letter to that point was delivered to Kobach’s office last week.

The idea: Legislative leaders don’t like corruption, either, and if Kobach is going to continue to toss around that politically charged term, they want him to identify the wrongdoings by the governor and his cabinet, the Legislature and lobbyists who Kobach considers corrupt.

They want the names, and the actions Kobach believes are corrupt, or at least shaky enough he can make specific assertions of corruption, not just toss around that word and encourage voters to believe that the government they elected and the people who run it are corrupt.

To get specific, if Kobach has a real assertion of corruption in the governor’s office, the legislative leaders want him to present those assertions to the attorney general; corruption in the Legislature to legislative leaders, and corruption in lobbying to the Governmental Ethics Commission.


Yes, it is a “put up or shut up” order, one that might make the upcoming election cycle a little politer, or, if Kobach does come up with specific allegations of corruption, then a little more exciting.

The problem for lawmakers and Kobach is that “corrupt” is a pretty broad term. Vote for a tax increase? That’s probably corrupt to everyone who has to pay more, or more than the rest of the people who pay more. Vote for a highway exit ramp in your House or Senate district? Probably corrupt if the adjoining House or Senate district residents want a convenient exit ramp and didn’t get it. Hire a relative or campaign contributor as an assistant or deputy secretary of something or other and that could be labeled corruption.

Yes, you can spread corruption to about any action that you don’t personally like, not just actions that are a violation of state law or some obscure rule or regulation that the state enforces.

Now, just how Kobach is going to respond to that personalized “quit saying corrupt unless you can prove it” missive is unknown. And does that apply to everyone running for public office and should candidates be watching their language, too?

Or, of course, Kobach could just quit saying “corrupt” and maybe just call the leaders and employees of state government something else. Short? Left-handed? Orange? We’ll see, won’t we?

Syndicated by Hawver News Co. of Topeka, Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver's Capitol Report.