TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators say they have been told in secret briefings that foreign governments are trying to get proprietary information about business and agricultural assets in the state. Participants in the first briefing Tuesday said the extraordinary events involved a U.S. Department of Homeland Security official.
Lawmakers also said they were warned to be careful about opening emails from foreign sources. But they also said they did not hear about immediate threats. Legislators saw the briefings as highly unusual because they were conducted on a former Air Force base south of Topeka. Reporters and legislative staffers were not allowed to attend.
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is giving Kansas legislators extraordinary private briefings about undisclosed security issues.
Kansas House members boarded National Guard buses Tuesday for a briefing at a former Air Force base south of Topeka involving DHS and arranged by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office. Democrats had a separate briefing first, followed by Republicans.
Reporters and staffers were not allowed on the buses before they left the Statehouse. Deputy Attorney General Jay Scott Emler, a former state Senate majority leader, said in a letter Tuesday to the Kansas House speaker that the briefings should be given in closed party caucuses, which are allowed under the state’s open meetings law.
Emler’s letter said only that the briefings concerned issues that legislators “may encounter in the course of their official duties.” Lawmakers knew little about the content ahead of time.
“We’re anticipating it’s something to do with cybersecurity, but we don’t know,” House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr., a Kansas City-area Republican, told reporters ahead of the GOP briefing.
Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat and the Legislature’s longest-serving member, said he cannot recall a similar briefing in his 44 years as a lawmaker. Senators expect their DHS briefings by next week.
Democrat State Rep. Stephanie Clayton who represents the 19th District wrote on twitter, " Heading back from a routine security briefing at Forbes Field. It was nice to tour the facility, but somewhat anticlimactic, given the buildup. "