Monday news nuggets

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It’s early evening on Monday and here are some news nuggets that we needed to get out but couldn’t because the Sunday Reader took a holiday break.

Julia Scott services

Services for the late daughter of Susan President Susan Wagle are set for 11 a.m. Tuesday (Dec. 29) at Corpus Christi Catholic Parish, 6001 Bob Billings Parkway in Lawrence.

Julia Scott, the wife of lobbyist Riley Scott, died March 17 after a four-year battle with cancer. She was 38.

Julia Scott

The family celebrated a funeral mass on March 21, but it was limited to immediate family members because of restrictions put in place as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state.

“Julia loved the Christmas season more than any other. Her birthday is also Dec. 20, so having her memorial Mass just about a week after that, and only a few days after Christmas Day, seems like a proper way to honor her memory and give thanks for the gift of loving her and being loved by her,” Riley Scott said in a statement.

Anyone who wants to attend is asked to register. The Mass will be livestreamed if you are unable to attend.

Gooch going out on his own

Kerry Gooch, former chief of staff to Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, is starting  his own lobbying firm.

Gooch, the former executive director of the Kansas Democratic Party, will lobby for multiple organizations, including the Kansas Rural Independent Telecommunications Coalition.

Kerry Gooch

He previously worked as a lobbyist for Capitol Advantage, handling a number of issues, including taxes, telecommunications, utilities, wind energy and other natural resources.

He also served as a campaign representative for Kansans for Wind Energy where he recruited companies and organizations to join the initiative.

A 2013 graduate of Kansas State, Gooch also ran former House Minority Leader Paul Davis’ unsuccessful campaign for Congress two years ago.

He also will be running a nonprofit called Redtail Academy, which is focused on increasing diversity in the aviation community by teaching inner city youth how to fly.

Wagaman joins lobbying firm

Retired Kansas Securities Commissioner Jeff Wagaman has joined Kearney and Associates.

Wagaman moves over to Steve Kearney’s office after recently retiring as state securities commissioner.

Wagaman had worked as the securities commissioner in the Insurance Department since 2019 and in state government for 30 years.

The former campaign manager for Gov. Bill Graves, Wagaman also worked as executive director for the crime victims compensation division in the attorney general’s office from 2012 to 2019.

He also served as deputy chief of staff for the attorney general in 2011 and 2012 as well as assistant state treasurer from 2002 to 2009.

Schmidt supports securities commissioner

Insurance Commissioner Vicki Schmidt backs her choice to be securities commissioner after it was reported that he managed a contract for the Kansas Reading Roadmap program that came under criticism in an audit.

“The commissioner fully supports Dan Klucas for securities commissioner,” spokesman Lee Modesitt said in a statement.

Daniel Klucas

“We have no doubt the Senate will see that Dan is an experienced manager with a record of serving honorably across a number of roles, including most recently as chief financial officer for the Boys and Girls Club of Topeka,” Modesitt said.

Last year, the Department for Children and Families ended a contract with the administrator of the program after an audit uncovered $2.3 million in questionable expenses in 2014 and 2015 using welfare funds.

The state halted the no-bid contract with Hysell & Wagner because of an audit started during former Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration that wasn’t finalized and was never made public.

The company was the administrator of the Reading Roadmap program, which was started in the fall of 2013 under the Brownback administration to promote early childhood literacy.

Klucas had worked at the Kansas Department for Children and Families – or what was previously known as the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services – since 2006.

In 2016, Klucas was director of grants and contracts and managed the reading program’s contract. He provided an overview of the program to lawmakers in 2016.

“It is our understanding when a grant or a contract is awarded, the organization is required to submit a budget, which is approved by the budget team at the agency,” Modesitt said in a statement.

“Mr. Klucas’ team would have tracked reimbursement based on those approved budgets and approved spending based on guidelines per the department’s auditors.”

At DCF, Klucas oversaw the process of developing requests for proposals and writing grants, Modesitt said

“In his role, he did not have the authority to approve or disapprove of any contract or grant, rather prepared the paperwork to facilitate it,” he said.

Klucas’ nomination must still be confirmed by the Senate.

And just in case you missed it, these stories from the holiday week…

  • Kansas population growth in the last decade slowest since the 1930s.
  • Attorney General Derek Schmidt supporting NRA in lawsuit against New York.
  • Governor names new acting labor secretary.
  • U.S. government opposes California’s state-funded travel ban to Kansas and other states over laws its deems discriminatory.
  • House speaker names new Republican committee assignments.
  • New Senate minority leader names more new staffers.
  • Incoming female lawmakers call on state Rep.-elect Aaron Coleman to resign.