- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 9, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle has hired a sitting lawmaker who is not seeking re-election to help with other Republicans’ legislative campaigns.

Sen. Garrett Love, R-Montezuma, was hired last month as Wagle’s legislative director and will earn $40,000 through December. Love’s term in the Senate will end in December, The Wichita Eagle reported (https://bit.ly/2bcecDY ).

Kansas’ ethics law allows personal staff of elected officials to do campaign work on taxpayer time. Love will not be reimbursed as a senator for any time he spends in Topeka for interim committee meetings, said Wagle’s chief of staff, Harrison Hems.

Love was elected to the House in 2010 but appointed before he took that office to a vacant seat in the Senate, where he’s served six years. He said he he would primarily be working from western Kansas and that he doesn’t plan to continue as legislative director if Wagle is re-elected as Senate president during the next session.

Hems said Wagle hired Love “because a lot of our open seats are in rural parts of the state” and he “has a unique understanding of those areas.”

Love said his job will include “advising the Senate president with rural issues, agricultural issues, rural elections and then also helping with communications . helping both candidates and potential newly elected officials.”

He acknowledged that “it’s pretty unique” for a sitting lawmaker to join the staff of another lawmaker but said Wagle’s staff discussed the arrangement beforehand to ensure that it was legal.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, called Love’s hiring “highly unusual.”

“The taxpayers are paying an elected official for campaigning, basically,” Hensley said. “I think that, to me, is different than staff people, who work for an elected official, being able to use their state time to campaign. I think there’s a distinct difference there.”

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This story has been corrected to show that Love has served six years in the Senate, not two years in the House and four in the Senate.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com


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