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Kansas ethics commission backs off fine for gag order violation

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  1. Prior Restraint
A $7,500 fine levied against a political activist in Kansas for speaking about an ethics complaint he filed was reversed last week…

A $7,500 fine levied against a political activist in Kansas for speaking about an ethics complaint he filed was reversed last week after the state attorney general said gag orders in such cases were unconstitutional, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports.

Kris Van Meteren had filed a complaint last year with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission against state Sen. Dwayne Umbarger, accusing the senator of improperly using campaign cash. After Van Meteren spoke about his complaint to the Capital-Journal and the Kansas Liberty, an online publication, the commission began investigating Van Meteren for violating the code of silence it imposes on complainants, according to the Associated Press.

The Commission decided in February to impose a $7,500 fine on Van Meteren, but reversed itself last week after the attorney general’s office issued an opinion saying gag orders tied to ethics complaints violate the First Amendment rights of the person making the complaint, according to the Associated Press.