O’Neal still House speaker while heading Kansas chamber

Mike O’Neal’s decision to remain as speaker of the Kansas House until mid-January, even though he already has begun working as chief executive officer and president of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, has raised ethics complaints. “This is unprecedented in terms of conflict of interest,” Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, told the Topeka Capital-Journal. But O’Neal, a Hutchinson Republican, said he is not violating any ethics laws because he won’t become an official lobbyist for the chamber until after he resigns from the House. This isn’t the first ethics concern about O’Neal, the Capital-Journal noted. A House committee criticized O’Neal for being lead attorney in a 2010 lawsuit against the state over a budget dispute, and the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission investigated the hiring of O’Neal’s wife for an administrative job in the House leadership office but decided there was insufficient evidence that O’Neal broke nepotism laws.