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Headlines for Monday, July 21, 2014


Feds Investigate Corruption in Kansas National Guard

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Adjutant General's office says federal authorities are investigating possible corruption involving outside medical companies' contracts with the Kansas Army National Guard. Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the adjutant general's office, confirmed the investigation Friday to The Lawrence Journal-World but declined to release specific details. She said the investigation involves concerns of "inappropriate conduct" on medical contracts. The Journal-World reports Watson's statement was in response to questions it asked about allegations that a captain in the Guard's Medical Detachment received gifts from Dentrust, a Pennsylvania company that performs dental screenings and treatment for Guard soldiers. Dentrust is one of three firms that contract with the Guard for those services. In federal fiscal years 2012-2013, it received more than $585,000 under those contracts.


Conservative Super PAC Opposes Huelskamp in KS 1st District Race

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A conservative Republican super PAC seeking to unseat U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp is spending more than $108,500 in the Republican primary race for the sprawling 1st Congressional District of western and central Kansas. A filing with the Federal Elections Commission Monday shows the Now or Never PAC out of Kansas City, Missouri, is putting money into mailers and other advertising against him. Huelskamp is a tea party favorite known for his criticism of the GOP leadership in Washington. He is seeking a third two-year term. He is challenged in the GOP primary by Alan LaPolice, a Clyde farmer and educator. The PAC money is the latest blow to Huelskamp's re-election bid to this agricultural district. The Kansas Farm Bureau and the Kansas Livestock Association have also refused to endorse him.


Group Joins Crowded Ad Field in Kansas Senate Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Washington-area group backing tea party challenger Milton Wolf's bid to unseat Kansas Senator Pat Roberts is spending more than $423,000 on radio and television ads ahead of the Republican primary. The ads from a political action committee tied to the Senate Conservatives Fund also are mixing with the candidates' own statewide spots. Senate Conservatives Fund President Ken Cuccinelli said Monday that Wolf remains the underdog against three-term incumbent Roberts but the fund believes Wolf can win. Wolf is broadcasting his own television ad, noting that the senator's official residence in Dodge City is rental space in a home owned by supporters. The conservative group's ad hits similar themes. Roberts's campaign began a television ad last week blasting Wolf for repeatedly not voting in local elections and state primaries.


Ex-US Representative Meyers Endorses GOP Kansas Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former Republican congresswoman Jan Meyers has formally endorsed Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's re-election, six days after being listed among GOP moderates endorsing his Democratic challenger. Brownback's campaign released a statement Monday from Meyers saying that she's pleased with Brownback's efforts to reduce the state's personal income taxes. She also said it's important for Republicans to rally around the governor. Last week, the campaign of Democratic challenger Paul Davis announced the formation of a new group called Republicans for Kansas Values and listed more than 100 names of mostly former GOP office holders who had endorsed Davis. The list included Meyers, who represented the Kansas City-area 3rd Congressional District from 1985 to 1997. But Meyers said the next day that she would never publicly endorse a Democrat.


State Receives 14,205 Concealed Carry Applications

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Attorney General's Office says the state received the second highest number of concealed carry applications in the last fiscal year. The attorney general announced in a news release Monday that more than 14,205 applications were received between July 1, 2013, and June 30 this year. The highest number of applications in one fiscal year came in last year, when 25,316 applications were received. Attorney General Derek Schmidt says more than 83,000 Kansans currently have active concealed carry permits. The state has received 90,000 applications since 2006. Thirty-six other states recognize Kansas-issued concealed carry permits.


Jenkins Holds Big Fundraising Lead in Kansas 2nd

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican congresswoman Lynn Jenkins has maintained her big fundraising lead over Democratic challenger Margie Wakefield in the 2nd District of eastern Kansas. Finance reports filed last week by their campaigns show Jenkins ended June with nearly $2 million in cash on hand for her campaign. Wakefield had less than $236,000. Jenkins also raised almost three times as much in cash contributions from April through June, $382,000 compared with $135,000 for Wakefield. The biggest advantage for Jenkins was with political action committees. She raised nearly $255,000 from PACs, compared with less than $20,000 for Wakefield. Jenkins is seeking her fourth two-year term. Wakefield is a Lawrence attorney. Jenkins faces Joshua Joel Tucker of Pittsburg in the August 5 GOP primary, but he raised only about $6,800 during the last quarter.


PAC Dollars Boost Yoder's Treasury in Kansas 3rd District Race

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Contributions from political action committees have helped Republican congressman Kevin Yoder stockpile funds for his re-election campaign in Kansas' 3rd District. A finance report filed last week by Yoder's campaign shows it received $131,000 from PACs from April through June. He also collected more than $110,000 in cash contributions from individuals. He ended the period with more than $2.2 million in cash. Yoder's most active Democratic challenger in the Kansas City-area district is former state Senator Kelly Kultala. She raised $85,000 during the quarter, ending June with nearly $100,000 in cash. Kultala's only PAC contribution was a $250 donation from a committee associated with a payday loan company. She faces retired Lenexa electrician Reginald Marselus in the August 5 Democratic primary. No report was available for him online.


Tribe Agrees with Dismissal of Lawsuit over Land

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An Oklahoma tribe has agreed with the government that the last claim in its lawsuit seeking to build a casino on suburban Wichita land should be dismissed. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ordered the Wyandotte Nation to show cause why the court shouldn't dismiss as moot the lawsuit's remaining claim of unreasonable delay. The Interior Department had earlier notified the court that it rejected the tribe's application to take the Park City land into trust so the tribe can build a casino there. Robinson left the decision last year to the Interior Department, but retained jurisdiction to ensure it processed the application in a timely manner. The tribe noted Friday the Interior Department says it could submit a new application addressing accounting issues that formed the basis for the denial.


Big 12 Assigns 1st Female Football Official

DALLAS (AP) — The Big 12 Conference has assigned a female official to work one of its games for the first time in league history. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Monday that Catherine "Cat" Conti will be on the crew for the University of Kansas Jayhawks' season opener at home September 6 against Southeast Missouri State. While calling this a good opportunity for Conti and the league, Bowlsby says Big 12 officiating supervisor Walt Anderson assigned Conti "because she is just a darned good official." Bowlsby says Conti, a Southland Conference official, has paid her dues. KU coach Charlie Weis jokingly said he'll try not to use as many curse words as usual during the game.


3rd Re-Sentencing for Man Who Put Children in Dryer

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Hutchinson man convicted of putting two children in a hot clothes dryer as punishment will be resentenced for the third time. An appellate court has ordered the third sentencing hearing for Aaron Pritchard, who was convicted of child abuse in 2008 after he put his girlfriend's 2- and 3-year-old children in the dryer when the younger child wet his pants. The boy suffered second-degree burns on his back. The Hutchinson News reports the appeals court found Friday that a district judge did not correct errors made in previous sentences, involving how long Pritchard should be imprisoned. The court agreed with Pritchard's attorney, who argued the maximum sentence allowed should be just over five years, which means Pritchard could be released soon. No new sentencing date was set.

Topeka Child Missing Since Standoff Found Safe

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say a 2-year-old girl who had been missing for more than 24 hours has been found safe. However, police are still looking for the man who took the girl during a domestic disturbance on Saturday in southwest Topeka. Details of how and where the girl was found Sunday have not been released. Officers were called to the home Saturday afternoon, where a woman said her boyfriend was inside with their nearly 2-year-old daughter. After a nearly four-hour standoff, police entered the home and found no one inside.


Ex-Teacher Convicted of Pushing Wife Off Cliff

ROCKLAND, Maine (AP) — A former Maine man has been convicted of bashing his wife's head with a rock and pushing her off a cliff in disputes over an affair and inheritance money. The couple, Charles and Lisa Black, had moved from Kansas to retire in coastal Maine. Before the fall in 2011, they'd argued about how he spent money from a $4 million inheritance from her father and over an affair he had. Prosecutors say 71-year-old Charles Black hit his wife with a rock before pushing her off Maiden Cliff. Both tumbled down the mountainside. He was found guilty Monday of attempted murder and other charges. Charles Black, who now lives in Utah, did not testify. He has said he had no memory of pushing his wife. They have divorced, and she goes by Lisa Zahn.


Kansas Man Dies Weeks After Police Chase

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas man has died from injuries he suffered when his car was struck by a stolen truck going the wrong way on Interstate 29 near Kansas City on July 2. Authorities say 38-year-old Benjamin Shively of Overland Park died Saturday at an area hospital. The Platte County Sheriff's office says Shively's car collided with a truck driven by 35-year-old Justin Burkholder of Kansas City near the Kansas City International Airport. Burkholder died at the scene. KCTV5 reports investigators say the truck Burkholder was driving was stolen from south Platte County and there were stolen guns inside the vehicle. Authorities say the chase reached 100 mph as it wound through Platte and Clay counties.


Anti-Abortion Group Files Complaint Against KS Congressional Candidate

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A national anti-abortion leader has asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo for alleged ethics violations during his re-election campaign. Troy Newman is president of Operation Rescue. Last week, he made public documentation sent to the agency accusing the Pompeo of posting links to campaign material on his House website. Pompeo's office says it has found nothing that rises to a "material failure" to comply with all requirements. What makes the allegations potentially significant is that they come from a prominent anti-abortion leader as Pompeo faces a tough primary challenge from former congressman Todd Tiahrt. Both conservative Republicans are staunch abortion opponents. Abortion itself is not a campaign issue in the race, but anti-abortion forces here have grown into an important voting constituency.


Minor Earthquakes Reported in Harper County

HARPER, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Geological Survey says two minor earthquakes were recorded within hours of each other in Harper County in southern Kansas over the weekend. No injuries or severe damage were reported after either earthquake. The first earthquake was recorded about 7:30 p.m. Saturday. It registered a 3.0 magnitude, with the epicenter about 5½ miles northwest of Harper. The second, registered 3.3 magnitude, was recorded about 6.5 miles southeast of Harper about 7:25 Sunday morning.


Lawyers Quarrel over Disclosures in Bomb Plot Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge is encouraging government lawyers to review what he calls "substantial" blacked-out material given to defense attorneys for a man accused of plotting a suicide bombing at Wichita's airport. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot told attorneys Monday he wants to move along as rapidly as possible the case of Terry Loewen, an avionics technician jailed on terrorism-related charges. Belot gave prosecutors 30 days to respond to a defense letter outlining evidence it contends should be disclosed. Loewen was arrested December 13 after allegedly trying to bring inert explosives onto the tarmac at the airport, where he worked. He has pleaded not guilty to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to use an explosive device to damage property and attempting to give material support to al-Qaida.


Kansas Man Accused of Trying to Drown 4-Year-Old

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 37-year-old Topeka man is behind bars after being accused of kidnapping a 4-year-old girl and trying to drown her. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the man was taken into custody after police responded at 12:20 p.m. Friday to a reported kidnapping. Topeka police spokeswoman Lt. Jana Harden says witnesses reported a man had taken the girl into the yard of a private home and held her underwater in a swimming pool. A witness was able to get to the girl and take her to safety. Harden says the man and the child are not related. The man was being held at the Shawnee County Jail on charges of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping.


Teachers Worry About Decline in Kansas Driver's Ed Programs

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Driver education instructors say they're concerned about a decline in school programs teaching youngsters how to drive at a time when distractions are growing. The Wichita Eagle reports about 200 members of the American Driver & Traffic Safety Education Association met in Wichita last week to discuss trends in driver training. They say one of the more troubling developments is that many schools are ditching their driver's education programs or treating them as an after-school or summer add-on instead of making them an important part of the curriculum. Kansas AAA spokesman Jim Hanni says teenage traffic fatalities have dropped in recent years not because of driver's education, but because of a new state law that doesn't allow drivers to receive an unrestricted license until they are 17.


Pipeline Company in Kansas Accident Cited for Past Violations

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The company responsible for a recent natural gas pipeline accident that spewed a hazardous substance outside a small Kansas town has faced more than $270,000 in federal penalties for problems elsewhere along its pipelines. A section of a Panhandle Eastern pipeline erupted June 19, spraying 1,300 gallons of natural gas condensate over a rural area near Olpe, Kansas, a town of about 550 residents south of Emporia. Natural gas condensate is a mix of natural gas and hydrocarbons, and typically contains toxic chemicals, including benzene, a carcinogen. Federal records show the U.S. Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration fined Panhandle Eastern a total of $272,400 for violations in 2007 and 2012. No injuries were reported. Panhandle Eastern spokeswoman Vicki Granado says the company follows pipeline safety regulations.


Huelskamp and Opponent Report Contributions

FOWLER, Kan. (AP) — Kansas congressman Tim Huelskamp's challenger in the Republican primary matched him in cash contributions from April through June, but the incumbent had nine times the cash on hand when the period ended. Finance reports filed this week show Huelskamp and GOP challenger Alan LaPolice each raised about $109,000 in cash contributions during the quarter. Huelskamp is seeking a third, two-year term representing the 1st District of western and central Kansas. LaPolice is a Clyde farmer and educator. Huelskamp's advantage as an incumbent showed in his cash on hand. He had $800,000 at the beginning of the period and built it up to nearly $835,000. LaPolice began with a balance of $14,400 and ended with almost $91,000. Huelskamp spent about $75,000 during period, while LaPolice spent less than $33,000.


Kansas Gets Millions from Federal Treasury Program

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A U.S. Treasury Department program brought $31.8 million to Kansas last year, and that number could grow in the future. The Treasury Offset Program helps states collect debts owed by tax deadbeats and welfare cheats. The Wichita Eagle reports Kansas plans to join a part of the program that helps states recover improperly paid unemployment benefits. The program intercepts all or part of federal tax refunds or other federal payments to pay debts to the state. It can also garnish vendor payments, part of federal employees' salaries and capture up to 15 percent of a person's Social Security check. Most of the money Kansas collects through the program is from delinquent child support, which made up $23 million of the $31.8 million sent to the state last year.


Task Force Works to Bring Amtrak Back to Emporia

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — A group of Emporia residents is exploring the possibility of returning Amtrak to the northeast Kansas city. The Emporia Amtrak Task Force recently filed for nonprofit status with the Kansas Secretary of State's Office. It's trying to raise funds for an impact study to build a train depot to replace one that was destroyed by fire in 1999. Supporters say Amtrak would improve the city's economic development efforts and provide transportation for the elderly and international students at Emporia State University. They say it also could bring people into the city to shop or visit. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports members of the task force have been talking to Amtrak and BNSF railroad staff, Emporia State University and community leaders. BSNF owns the tracks on which Amtrak's Southwest Chief runs.


Kansas Retirement System Hits Benchmark

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state's pension system has been looking healthier thanks in part to investment gains and legislative changes that boosted employer and employee contributions. The Kansas Public Employees Retirements System's Board of Trustees says the state's pension system reached an important benchmark of 60 percent funded at the end of 2013. The state's pension system improved in part because of a 17 percent investment return last year.


Young Kansas Girl Killed After Shootout

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — An eastern Kansas police chief says it's unclear who fired the shot that killed a young Kansas girl at the end of a high-speed chase that started after she was reported to be abducted. Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens said Saturday initial reports that a 30-year-old man who took the girl from her home fired the shot that killed Cadence Harris might be inaccurate. Platte County, Missouri, police notified Leavenworth police at 7:30 p.m. Friday they were in pursuit of a man suspected of abducting a child. The Kansas City Star reports the chase crossed the Missouri River into Leavenworth, where it ended at a construction site. Kitchens says the man was wounded in a shootout with police and was taken to a Kansas City hospital with non-life-threatening wounds.


Oklahoma Man Sentenced in Topeka Stabbing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 29-year-old Oklahoma man has been sentenced to six years in prison for repeatedly stabbing a man outside a Topeka grocery store. Anthony Ryan Downing, of Owasso, Oklahoma, pleaded no contest in February to attempted intentional second-degree murder in the on April 6, 2013, stabbing of then 26-year-old Josh Nottingham. At the sentencing Friday, Shawnee County District Court Judge David Debenham denied a defense motion for a lighter sentence. In addition to the six-year sentence, Downing also has to pay restitution of about $100,000. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Nottingham suffered multiple life-threatening stab wounds outside a Dillons grocery store. Downing and Nottingham didn't know each other when the stabbing occurred.


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