Conflict of Interest or Height of Hypocrisy?
A recent story in the Wichita Eagle focused on comments from Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, regarding a conflict of interest for members of the House and Senate Tax Committees. After examining data gathered by the Eagle, showing that 20 of the 23 members of the House Taxation Committee and 9 of the 11 member of the Senate Tax Committee have business interests that would be exempted from state income tax under the Brownback plan, Hensley suggested that some of the members should consider recusing themselves from voting on the plan.
It’s one thing if a piece of legislation targets a specific industry or employer, but when legislation applies uniformly as in this case, it’s simply not practical to have members of a part-time citizen legislature recuse themselves. And no one knows that better than Senator Hensley, a special education teacher in the Topeka district who routinely introduces and votes on legislation impacting public schools. Senator Hensley obviously believes he has no conflict on education issues, yet he has no problem finding fault with others who do the same as he.
| “They certainly ought to at least let the general public and the rest
of their colleagues know that they have a conflict of interest,”
Hensley said. “We have rules in the Senate that provide for that.
a bill hits the floor on final action, you cannot be forced to vote if
you have a conflict of interest and you announce that publicly before
the vote takes place. It addresses this very kind of thing.”
It’s also noteworthy that the
Eagle story failed to mention this obvious conflict.