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Reports: FBI Investigation Involves Kansas Governor’s Office

The FBI is investigating possible influence peddling by former aides of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, according to a story Sunday in The Topeka Capital-Journal.

The FBI is also looking into whether the governor’s office pressured the for-profit companies that run the state Medicaid system to use lobbyists from Parallel Strategies, a firm founded by the former aides, including the governor’s former chief of staff, David Kensinger, the newspaper reported.

Parallel Strategies declined to comment to the newspaper. A spokesperson for the governor said she was unaware of the investigation. An FBI spokesperson said the agency would not comment.

On Up To Date, Capital-Journal reporter Tim Carpenter told host Steve Kraske Monday that he did not believe the governor was a target of the investigation.

“I just believe from my conversations with individuals that some of the activities of Parallel Strategies, activities of other legislators and lobbyists unaffiliated with Parallel Strategies, has drawn the interest of federal investigators,” Carpenter said.

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger said Monday that she was unaware of the FBI inquiry. But the Republican, who has publically clashed with Gov. Sam Brownback on health issues, confirmed other aspects of the story.

Praeger said she saw letters sent to lobbyists in 2012 pressuring them to support legislative candidates backed by the administration.

“The letters that went out were somewhat intimidating,” she told KHI News Service. “The implication was if you don’t contribute, then you’re going to have a hard time getting your agenda through.”

The Capital-Journal said the pressure tactics were part of the Brownback administration’s successful effort to replace moderate Republican leaders in the Kansas Senate with more conservative members.

The newspaper said it was unclear how far the investigation has progressed or whom the investigation is targeting.

As a health care reporter, I aim to empower my audience to take steps to improve health care and make informed decisions as consumers and voters. I tell human stories augmented with research and data to explain how our health care system works and sometimes fails us. Email me at alexs@kcur.org.
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