The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

November 22, 2010

Former state lawmaker Barone sues Kansas racing commission

PITTSBURG, Kan. —  A former state senator is suing the state’s racing commission over its refusal to disclose why it declined to renew his gaming board license after a background check was conducted on him in 2007.

In a lawsuit filed last year in Shawnee County District Court, Jim Barone is seeking $75,000 in damages, citing the “deprivation of his constitutional right to due process” and “past and future financial loss, emotional stress and mental anguish.”

Barone contends that the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission should also be forced to disclose its reason for rejecting the background check, which stopped his application to renew his license to serve on a southeast Kansas racing board. He says he was denied any chance to challenge possible claims against him.

When the commission rejected the background check, Barone was seeking to be named director of TRAC-Southeast, the license-holder for Camptown Greyhound Park in Frontenac. The racing park opened only briefly and is currently not operating.

The commission renews licenses of racing board members every three years, which includes a background check by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. At the time, racing commission officials said they would be violating state law if they publicly discussed Barone’s background check or their reasons for rejecting it.

Barone’s attorney, Edward L Bailey, said that the racing commission’s decision cast a false light on Barone, who served as a state senator for the 13th District for 12 years.

“They gave no reasons and they’ve taken the approach that all of these things are confidential,” Bailey said.

Barone first sued the racing commission in 2008. That lawsuit was dismissed on Sept. 1 of this year. The current case — which Bailey said includes the same issues — was filed in Oct. 2009 and is still pending in Shawnee County District Court.

Barone referred all questions on the lawsuit to Bailey. The racing commission’s attorney, Phillip J. Gragson, also declined to comment.

Bailey noted that Barone passed background checks in 1995 and 2000 and received a license from the racing commission.

“This was done by a state agency accusing him of being unable of having a background check be approved,” Bailey said. “But he was in the Senate and was going to be asked to run for re-election. There was no way to rebut, because there was no idea what it was.”

Barone decided in 2008 not to seek another term in the Kansas Senate.

 

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