TOPEKA (KSNT)- Republican U.S. Representative Jake LaTurner weighed in on last week’s police raid of a local newspaper in his district.
During a roundtable event in Topeka on Thursday, LaTurner told reporters that the raid, where computers and cellphones were confiscated, was an “unfortunate situation.”
“It’s an unfortunate situation what’s happened in Marion,” LaTurner said. “This is an ongoing issue that’s going to be settled through the legal process, and so, we’ve been following this. It seems like there’s a new development almost every day.”
“I’ve always supported the First Amendment and the freedom of press,” LaTurner said. “It’s incredibly important. It’s also a tragedy what happened to the owner of the paper, who was a pillar in the community, very sad. [It’s] a terrible circumstance that’s happening down there that I know will be sorted out through the legal process.”
The Marion County Record, a local newspaper in Marion, Kansas, was raided by the local police department on Friday. They also raided the home of the newspaper’s publisher and editor, Eric Meyer, which he shared with his mother Joan Meyer. Joan, the 98-year-old co-owner of the newspaper, died on Saturday, the day after the raid.
According to the Associated Press, police said they had probable cause to believe there were violations of Kansas law, including one pertaining to identity theft, involving a woman named Kari Newell. Newell said she believed the newspaper, acting on a tip, violated the law to get her personal information to check the status of her driver’s license following a 2008 conviction for drunk driving.
Meyer said the Record decided not to write about it, but when Newell revealed at the subsequent city council meeting that she had driven while her license was suspended, that was reported.
On Wednesday, just days after computers and cellphones were seized by police, the Marion County Attorney Joel Ensey withdrew the search warrant against the newspaper. Ensey stated that there was “insufficient evidence” for the search and seizure.
Bernie Rhodes, the attorney representing the newspaper, said Wednesday that the items seized were being released and returned.