A county commissioner who is the target of a recall effort for violating an open meetings law earlier this year was previously investigated for another open meetings complaint, an official involved in the investigation confirmed.

A county commissioner who is the target of a recall effort for violating an open meetings law earlier this year was previously investigated for another open meetings complaint, an official involved in the investigation confirmed.

Investigators concluded that Commissioners Bob Holland and Dennis Bixby “did commit a mere technical violation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act,” Lannie C. Ornburn Jr. wrote in a letter to Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson.

The letter stated that the commissioners’ actions had been in good faith.

Ornburn is an assistant district attorney in Johnson County.

The Johnson County District Attorney’s Office was asked to investigate the matter because Thompson and the Kansas Attorney General’s Office felt there was a conflict of interest.

Ornburn has confirmed that a letter was sent to Thompson regarding the findings of the investigation.

“We did provide a letter and a review of what the allegations were,” Ornburn said.

According to the letter, which was dated Oct. 13, 2015, the complaint concerned actions that were taken June 30, 2014. The investigation did not take place until the following year.

A group is currently trying to collect enough signatures to trigger a recall election of Holland.

The committee that is requesting the recall election is arguing that Holland failed to perform his duties because of violations of the Kansas Open Meetings Act.

Last month, the three members of the Leavenworth County Commission entered into a consent order agreement with the Kansas attorney general to resolve violations of the state’s open meetings law.

The Attorney General’s Office found that the commissioners violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act in April by making binding decisions in executive session, not properly wording motions to go into executive session and not limiting discussion in executive session to topics identified in motions.

As part of the consent order, commissioners admitted to the violations. Each commissioner agreed to receive at least one hour of training regarding the open meetings law.

During an Oct. 10 commission meeting, Holland read a written statement that was a response to the recall effort.

In his statement, Holland said, “I have had no prior complaints.”

Holland later acknowledged that he and other commissioners were interviewed about the June 30, 2014, meeting. But Holland said he never received any correspondence indicating there had been a violation and he considered the matter dead.

“As far as I’m concerned, there was no issue,” he said.

Investigators determined that Holland and Bixby committed a technical violation of the law June 30, 2014, when they discussed department budget requests after the meeting was adjourned. They had the discussion with Pat Hurley, who was the county administrator at the time. The conversation lasted for 2.5 minutes, according to the letter written by Ornburn.

The letter noted that conversation was brief, recorded and in the presence of third parties.

The conversation was recorded by a system used to make audio recordings of the commission’s meetings.

The person who was the commission’s executive secretary at the time normally turned the recording equipment on and off. But she was absent June 30, 2014, so the equipment was turned on at the beginning of the meeting and remained on.

The recording equipment apparently was left on as commissioners met behind closed doors for an executive session. The recording equipment also picked up the conversation that took place after the meeting was adjourned.

The letter from Ornburn indicated that the secretary later sent an email July 1, 2014, to the director of the county’s Information Systems department, asking him to delete the recording of the executive session and everything that was recorded after the meeting was adjourned.

Ornburn indicated that the attempted destruction of the recordings appeared to have been an attempt to “cover up” the discussions that took place at the conclusion of the meeting.

“There is no indication that this was done at the direction of any of the county commissioners,” Ornburn wrote.

Holland said this had been ordered by Hurley.

County Treasurer Janice Van Parys has confirmed that she made the complaint that led to the investigation of the June 30, 2014, meeting.

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