The Kansas Attorney General’s Office is looking into a complaint that alleges the Leavenworth County Commission violated the state’s open meetings law.

The Kansas Attorney General’s Office is looking into a complaint that alleges the Leavenworth County Commission violated the state’s open meetings law.

County Treasurer Janice Van Parys confirmed she filed the complaint with the Attorney General’s Office.

Jennifer Montgomery, public information officer for the Attorney General’s Office, said the matter is under review.

Van Parys said she believes actions taken by the commission last year concerning the termination of her husband may have violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act.

Van Parys’ husband, David, was terminated from his job as county counselor Dec. 15.

Following a change in the makeup of the County Commission earlier this year, David Van Parys entered into a contract with the county to serve as a consultant.

The Leavenworth Times has obtained a copy of a letter from the Attorney General’s Office regarding the investigation of the complaint.

The 10-page letter, dated Feb. 24, was sent by Assistant Attorney General Lisa Mendoza to Mollie Hill, who now serves as the county counselor.

In the letter, Mendoza indicates the complaint focuses on County Commission meetings that took place between Nov. 23 and Dec. 30. Staff at the Attorney General’s Office reviewed meeting minutes of the County Commission.

In November and December, Robert Holland, Clyde Graeber and Dennis Bixby were the three county commissioners. Bixby left the commission in January and he was replaced by Doug Smith.

According to the letter from Mendoza, the preliminary review of the minutes prompted a concern among staff at the Attorney General’s Office regarding whether some motions for executive sessions met the statutory requirements.

Commissioners are required to make their meetings open to the public. But the law allows them to meet behind closed doors in executive session under some circumstances.

Janice Van Parys also confirmed that she complained to the Attorney General’s Office about an alleged violation of the Kansas Open Records Act. She believes she was charged an unreasonable fee of $300 for a copy of a document from the county’s Human Resources Department.

The treasurer argued that someone else was charged only $25 for a copy of the document.

Janice Van Parys said she later was reimbursed after complaining about the fee and indicating that she was considering making a complaint to the Attorney General’s Office.

Human Resources Director Tamara Copeland said in a statement that Kansas Open Records Act complaint made by the treasurer contains inaccurate and untruthful statements.

Copeland said in the statement that the records request was fulfilled “timely, appropriately, and in accordance with County policy and established open record fees.”

Copeland said she has submitted numerous documents in response to the allegation.

“I am confident that the response documentation provided will resolve the KORA portion of the complaint,” Copeland said in the statement.

Mendoza requested that the County Commission respond in writing to a series of questions related to the open meetings and open records complaint filed with the Attorney General’s Office. She asked to have the response by April 14.

The response was discussed during the April 13 meeting of the County Commission.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Hill indicated that she would request additional time for providing a response to the Attorney General’s Office, according to minutes from the April 13 meeting.

“The attorney general has granted a continuation,” Graeber said Tuesday.

Graeber said he had disagreed with a response that was drafted by county staff members.

Graeber also said he wanted to consult with an attorney before commenting on the complaint regarding alleged open meeting violations.

Attempts to reach Holland were unsuccessful Tuesday. At one point, Holland returned a phone call, leaving a message. But a later attempt to reach him by phone was unsuccessful.

The review of the allegations comes after the County Commission entered into a consent order agreement with the Kanas attorney general last year to resolve violations of the state’s open meetings law. These violations occurred in April 2016.

In this case, the Attorney General’s Office found the commissioners violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act 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.

Each commissioner agreed to receive at least one hour of training regarding the open meetings law.

The county treasurer and County Commission have had a contentious relationship. In 2015, Janice Van Parys filed a lawsuit against the commission over a dispute about money from a fund used by her office. The two parties eventually reached an agreement to resolve the matter.

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