When Gov. Sam Brownback vowed to change the nature of Kansas government, allegations of influence peddling and strong-armed tactics by key advisers were not what anyone had in mind.
But the Topeka Capital-Journal has reported that the FBI is investigating whether Brownback’s long-time political operative, David Kensinger, and others traded their influence with the administration for personal gain.
One area of inquiry centers on whether the three for-profit companies that were awarded contracts to run the state’s “KanCare” Medicaid system were pressured to use lobbyists from Parallel Strategies, a firm founded by Kensinger and two others, the newspaper reported.
Other questions involve whether people and groups have been coerced to use certain lobbyists or warned against donating to candidates who are out of favor with the Brownback team.
There is no indication the inquiry involves activities by the governor. And charges of illegal influence peddling or corruption can be hard to prove. A federal investigation into alleged “pay to play” activities by former and current members of the Missouri legislature a few years ago closed without charges.
Still, there have been rumblings about intimidation of long-time state workers, groups that depend on state funding and lawmakers, including some Republicans, who are out of step with Brownback’s agenda.
The governor’s political team wielded a big stick and gained a great deal of power from the 2012 legislative elections. If key operatives have been using that power improperly, they should be called out and stopped.