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Deficit Spending

A Kansas state rep goes out with the law on her heels.

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On inauguration day 2005, freshman Kansas state Rep. Patricia Kilpatrick told The Kansas City Star to call her Trish.

"I don't know Patricia," said the Republican from Overland Park. "That's only if I'm in trouble."

Court records obtained by the Pitch reveal that Kilpatrick has seen plenty of trouble over the past five years. She has bounced checks and refused to pay rent. A month after a trip to Aruba to join the search for Natalee Holloway, Kilpatrick was arrested for shoplifting at a SuperTarget.

Kilpatrick scored a big victory this session with the passage of Jessica's Law, which increases penalties on sex offenders who prey on children, mandating 25-year prison sentences and lifetime electronic monitoring. The law is named for Jessica Marie Lunsford, a 9-year-old Florida girl murdered by a sex offender in February 2005.

But Kilpatrick faces penalties of her own.

Kilpatrick and her campaign have been sued twice for outstanding debts. A lawsuit filed in Wyandotte County District Court in May alleges that Kilpatrick repeatedly refused to pay the Record News, a Kansas City, Kansas, bulk-mailing company, for campaign signs; the company is seeking $2,300.82.

She's also being sued by The Source, a Topeka marketing firm run by GOP political operatives Kristian Van Meteren and Jared Suhn. The Source's client list reads like a who's who of conservative Kansas politicians: U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, Attorney General Phill Kline and five conservative Kansas Board of Education members, as well as Kansans For Life and the Intelligent Design Network.

In her October 2004 campaign finance report, Kilpatrick listed a $500 expenditure to The Source for campaign mailers and postage. The report says Kilpatrick's campaign paid The Source on October 7, 2004 — the same date listed on court records showing The Source's attempt to collect $4,499.34. The Source won a judgment of $5,024.92 on December 29, 2005, but has been unable to collect the money. Now, The Source is attempting to garnish Kilpatrick's legislative paycheck for $5,335.08, according to an order filed on May 15 in Johnson County District Court.

Kilpatrick has tried to balance the bad with good. In October 2005, Kilpatrick went to Aruba for 14 days, where she joined Dave Holloway, Natalee Holloway's father, in a search for the missing teen. Kilpatrick didn't find Natalee. But she did return with photos of the trip, which she posted on her campaign Web site — though they look more like vacation slides than documentation of a search-and-rescue mission.

One month after her Aruba adventure, Kilpatrick was arrested for shoplifting at the SuperTarget on Blue Valley Parkway in Overland Park. According to a Kansas Bureau of Investigation report, Kilpatrick was arrested, fingerprinted and released on November 30.

Kilpatrick was attempting to slip out of the store with $209 worth of merchandise in her cart when a security guard stopped her. Among the 20 items listed on the three-page incident report: green grapes, toys (Star Wars, G.I. Joe and Yu-Gi-Oh) and Neutrogena products (balm, lip gloss and eye shadow).

The Target is just outside Kilpatrick's district. She had run for office on a basic conservative platform — anti-gun control, anti-abortion and anti-same-sex marriage — and won with 66 percent of the vote.

Nine days before the 2004 election, Overland Park police responded to a domestic-violence call at the duplex she was renting with then-boyfriend Nicholas Ryan Harms. Kilpatrick told officers that she and Harms had locked her out of the house following an argument. "She broke a window to gain access and a physical altercation took place between the parties as she came through the window," records say.

Convicted of domestic battery for the incident, Harms spent 90 days in jail, Johnson County District Court Records show. (He had previously served time for stealing a 1995 Honda Prelude in 2001.)

Later, the duplex owner, J.H. Property Investment Co., sued Kilpatrick for back rent, claiming that she owed the company $5,025 and had refused to vacate the house. A judgment was entered against Kilpatrick and Harms for $6,111.

It wasn't the first time a landlord had sued Kilpatrick. In February 2003, AMLI Management Company sued her for $1,234.95. Kilpatrick was living at the AMLI at Regents Crest apartment complex. The court ruled in AMLI's favor for $1,230.95 for rent and court costs.

Her most recent trouble came on January 21, when Kilpatrick wrote a worthless check for $18.26 at the Westlake Ace Hardware of Overland Park. A warrant was issued for her arrest on May 19, but it was recalled and the case was dismissed when Kilpatrick paid the hardware store and court costs, court records show.

Kilpatrick has a history of bouncing checks. LaMar's Donuts filed a lawsuit in September 2001 over a bad check for $9.24, dropping the suit after Kilpatrick paid the $240.24 judgment and court costs. On March 3, 2005, she wrote a bad check for $20.17 at a Conoco. Carey Johnson Oil Co. sued on August 9, 2005, and received a judgment of $336.17.

There's more. Capitol Federal Savings sued Kilpatrick for $1,940.28 plus court costs last month. A court date was scheduled for May 18, but the case was dismissed when Kilpatrick paid what she owed. In July 2003, the Kansas Department of Revenue came after Kilpatrick for $219.10 in delinquent taxes from 2001.

Kilpatrick did not return several calls and e-mails from the Pitch. And she declined to answer questions on June 5, when a reporter tried to speak with her after an event at the University of Kansas.

There, Kilpatrick had been a guest speaker at the Sunflower Girls State leadership conference. Speaking at the Lied Center in Lawrence, she gave 400 soon-to-be high school seniors her guidelines for becoming "the best you that you can be."

Kilpatrick talked about the good things she'd done. She saved a life, helping a motorist suffering an asthma attack. She helped look for Holloway in Aruba (added bonus: eight days of scuba diving). And she sponsored Jessica's Law.

"Success is definitely not an overnight thing," Kilpatrick said. "It still isn't. Because I'm going to wake up tomorrow, and I'm going to fail. But that's OK because I'm going to get up and I'm going to say, 'What did I learn from it?'"

Apparently, Kilpatrick has learned that she is unlikely to be re-elected. She is leaving the Legislature to become the director of government affairs for the Jessica Marie Lunsford Foundation in Homosassa Springs, Florida.

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