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Findings of Fact Van Meteren

Findings of Fact Van Meteren

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Published by Kansas Meadowlark
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, Beightel v Van Meteren, Complaint 424, Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission

See: http://kansasmeadowlark.com/2009/02/27/info-on-van-meteren-free-speech-ethics-case/
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, Beightel v Van Meteren, Complaint 424, Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission

See: http://kansasmeadowlark.com/2009/02/27/info-on-van-meteren-free-speech-ethics-case/

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Published by: Kansas Meadowlark on Feb 27, 2009
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06/16/2009

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KANSAS GOVERNMENTAL ETHICS COMMISSIONWilliam H. Beightel)Complainant,)))Complaint No. 424))Kristian D. Van Meteren,)Respondent)
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. Kristian D. Van Meteren filed a complaint dated September 15, 2008, with the KansasGovernmental Ethics Commission. The complaint form contains the following instruction:
CONFIDENTIALITYOnce a complaint is filed with the Commission, such filings and the allegations containedtherein are confidential and may not be disclosed except as otherwise provided by law.(K.S.A. 25-4161, K.S.A. 46-256).Intentional violation of the confidentiality rule is a Class A misdemeanor. (K.S.A. 25-4171,K.S.A. 46-259)
”.2. On September 18, 2008, Carol Williams, Executive Director of the Kansas GovernmentalEthics Commission, sent a letter to Kristian D. Van Meteren acknowledging the receipt of hiscomplaint dated September 15, 2008. The letter stated “[o]nce a complaint is filed, such filingsand the allegations contained therein are confidential unless and until probable cause is found onthe complaint and a public hearing is scheduled. . . . If the Commission determines that probablecause does exist, the complaint shall become a matter of public record and a public hearing onthe matter will be set.”3. On October 8, 2008, Kristian D. Van Meteren filed an amendment to his complaint with theKansas Governmental Ethics Commission. The complaint form contains the followinginstruction:
CONFIDENTIALITYOnce a complaint is filed with the Commission, such filings and the allegations containedtherein are confidential and may not be disclosed except as otherwise provided by law.(K.S.A. 25-4161, K.S.A. 46-256).Intentional violation of the confidentiality rule is a Class A misdemeanor. (K.S.A. 25-4171,K.S.A. 46-259)
”.
 
4. On October 15, 2008, Kristian D. Van Meteren filed an additional amendment to hiscomplaint with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission. The complaint form contains thefollowing instruction:
CONFIDENTIALITYOnce a complaint is filed with the Commission, such filings and the allegations containedtherein are confidential and may not be disclosed except as otherwise provided by law.(K.S.A. 25-4161, K.S.A. 46-256).
5. On October 15, 2008, an article written by Phil LaCerte appeared on the website“Kansasliberty.com” entitled, “New campaign finance charges leveled against (name redacted).”The article contained direct quotes from the September 18, 2008 letter sent by Ms. Williams toKristian D. Van Meteren, including the language stating that the complaint was to be keptconfidential. The article also contained direct quotes from the complaint filed by Kristian D. VanMeteren.6. On October 17, 2008, Mr. William Beightel, investigator for the Kansas Governmental EthicsCommission, reminded Kristian D. Van Meteren in a phone conversation of the statutoryrequirement that he not disclose the existence or details of the complaint filed by Mr. VanMeteren. Mr. Van Meteren responded, “It’s already all over the web.”7. On October 19, 2008, an article written by Tim Carpenter appeared on the website“CJonline.com” entitled, “Ethics inquiry examines spending from campaign account.” Thearticle contains details from the complaint filed by Kristian D. Van Meteren and direct quotes byMr. Van Meteren. The article also cites Carol Williams in reference to the statutoryconfidentiality requirements of complaints filed with the Kansas Governmental EthicsCommission and the Commission’s investigation of Mr. Van Meteren’s breach of theconfidentiality requirement by speaking to the reporter for the article. The article stated Mr. VanMeteren’s response was “I’ll pay the fine and exercise my free speech.”8. On October 22, 2008, Mr. William Beightel filed Complaint # 424 against Kristian D. VanMeteren alleging two counts of violating K.S.A. 25-4161(b):
Count 1) K.S.A. 25-4161(b) Complaint Confidentiality
On or about October 15, 2008,Kristian D. Van Meteren disclosed to Phil La Certe, blogger for KansasLiberty.com, thefiling of and allegations contained in Complaint No. 422, filed by Kristian D. VanMeteren on September 17, 2008, amended on October 8, 2008 and amended on October15, 2008, in violation of K.S.A. 25-4161 (b) and K.A.R. 19-6-1.K.S.A. 25-4171 provides that intentional violation of the confidentiality provision of K.S.A. 25-4161 is a class A misdemeanor. 
Count 2) K.S.A. 25-4161(b) Complaint Confidentiality
On or about October 15, 2008,Kristian D. Van Meteren disclosed to Tim Carpenter, reporter for the Topeka CapitalJournal, the filing of and allegations contained in Complaint No. 422, filed by Kristian D.Van Meteren on September 17, 2008, amended on October 8, 2008, and amended onOctober 15, 2008 in violation of K.S.A. 25-4161 (b) and K.A.R. 19-6-1.
 
K.S.A. 25-4171 provides that intentional violation of the confidentiality provision of K.S.A. 25-4161 is a class A misdemeanor.”9. On December 11, 2008, in a letter from Kristian D. Van Meteren to Carol Williams, Mr. VanMeteren made the following statement to the Commission in response to the complaint filedagainst him:
 Many members of my family have served in this nation’s military throughout its history,including several who died to guarantee me the rights enumerated in the Constitution of the United States. I will neither dishonor their service nor cheapen the rights they died to secure for me bysurrendering my right to free political speech, simply to avoid the misdemeanor chargeand civil fines you threaten to impose on me.
10. On January 19, 2009, an affidavit was delivered to the Kansas Governmental EthicsCommission by Tim Carpenter, reporter for the Topeka Capital Journal. In the affidavit, Mr.Carpenter stated he authored and reported the article that was published in the Topeka CapitalJournal on October 19, 2008 and to the best of his knowledge, it accurately reported theinformation obtained and was truthful. The article contained the information referenced inFinding of Fact item 7.11. On January 21, 2009, an affidavit was received via fax by the Kansas Governmental EthicsCommission from Phil LaCerte, of KansasLiberty.com, which stated “Kansas Liberty.com standsby the stories we reported based partly on information from Van Meteren.”12. On January 21, 2009, Carol Williams testified at the hearing on Complaint #424 againstKristian D. Van Meteren that her letter dated September 18, 2008 was addressed and mailed onlyto Mr. Van Meteren.13. K.S.A. 25-4161 states “(b) Whenever a complaint is filed with the commission alleging aviolation of a provision of the campaign finance act, such filing and the allegations therein shallbe confidential and shall not be disclosed except as provided in the campaign finance act.”14. K.A.R. 19-6-1 states “(a) Except as otherwise provided by relevant law and as provided inK.A.R. 19-5-5 all records, complaints, documents, reports filed with, submitted to, or made bythe commission; all records and transcripts of investigations and inquiries or hearings of thecommission under this act shall be confidential. . . . The following shall be public records andopen to public inspection:(1) a complaint and any amendments after a probable causedetermination;(2) an answer and any amendments with the consent of the respondent;(3) allmatters presented at a public meeting or public hearing; and(4) all reports of the commissionstating a final finding of fact.(b) A person subject to an investigation or a respondent may releaseany report or order issued pursuant to K.A.R. 19-3-1 or K.A.R. 19-5-9 and comment thereon.The confidentiality requirements of relevant law shall be observed by all members of thecommission, its staff, and all parties to any proceedings.”

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