Updated: Due to a posting error, the bottom half of the print edition was not initially posted on the web site. The Gardner News regrets the error.

Danedri Thompson
[email protected]
The Gardner Recall Committee filed a detailed campaign finance report on Feb. 25, following a request from the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office.
The report revealed that Mayor Dave Drovetta, former council members Eric Schulz and Dennis Pugh donated to the campaign to recall then-council members Mary Peters and John Shepherd.
Tory Roberts also donated to the campaign. She and Pugh ran unsuccessfully for seats on the council in 2009 and lost to Peters and former council member Dan Thompson.
Steve Howe, Johnson County District Attorney, said his office sent a request for the campaign finance report after a complaint was filed in January.
“Now we’re doing a further review to determine if that report complies with the statutory requirements,” Howe said.
According to Gardner Recall Committee’s campaign finance report, the group received more than $1,800 in anonymous donations from 24 different sources. Following a complaint filed this week, Howe is also investigating whether the candidates themselves, Peters and Shepherd, need to file campaign finance reports. To date, neither has.
Shortly after the deadline to file campaign finance reports, Shepherd told the Gardner News that he did not spend any money on a campaign to stay in office.
“We didn’t have a campaign manager. Most of the money we spent, we wasted on an attorney,” Shepherd said.
Ryan Beasley, treasurer for the Gardner Recall Committee, wrote in a letter to the newspaper that his group inquired about the need to file a finance report.
“We asked Brian Newby of the Johnson County Election Office, he suggested we inquire with the state and the state sent us back to the county election office,” Beasley wrote. “To say the least there was a lot of gray in whether or not we needed to account for any monies we took in for the recall election.”
However, according to an e-mail the Gardner News obtained, Newby told Beasley the group would need to file a report if a recall election went forward.
“Yes, there is a campaign finance report for committees, and you would need to file that by Dec. 31 if this thing got traction,” Newby wrote in an email to Ryan Beasley dated June 9, 2009.
Howe said there is gray area in campaign finance laws that govern cities of the second class like Gardner. Specifically, Howe said officials from his office are trying to determine discrepancies between the statutes that govern recall elections and those that govern local elections.
“You would think on it’s face that the election laws clearly specify, but if you start reading, you understand it’s not as clear cut as you would think,” Howe said. “Really Kansas probably ought to be taking a look at some of these statutes and making some changes to make it more clear.”
In the meantime, Howe said his office will be trying to resolve the discrepancies. In order to do that, he said members of his staff will be examining the statutes and they could request an opinion from the Attorney General’s office. Or, Howe could decide to issue his own opinion that may be used in the future as precedence in other investigations or cases.
The best thing that could come from this, Howe said, is a redrafting of state statute.
“I think most people want to have transparency in elections,” he said. “I think that’s everyone’s desire. I don’t believe the statutes right now that we’re examining really address the transparency that the voting public wants in these campaigns.”