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Kansas Police Criticized for Raiding Local Newspaper Office and Home of Publisher

Kansas Police Criticized for Raiding Local Newspaper Office and Home of Publisher

It doesn’t matter the size of the publication. All media institutions are vulnerable.

The following story is important.

Marion, KS, law enforcement raided the Marion County Record’s office and the home of the publisher/owner on Friday.

Marion is located 60 miles north of Wichita.

Co-owner and publisher Eric Meyer thinks a story about a local business owner from Wednesday triggered the raid. The authorities claimed the raid happened because of identity theft.

Over 34 news organizations and press freedom groups condemned the Marion police for the raid, fearing the impact it will have on the press.

The Raid

Meyer said they took his phone, a computer router, and an old laptop from his home:

Officials conducted the raid after Marion County Court Magistrate Judge Laura Viar signed a search warrant Friday morning, which alleges violations of identity theft and “unlawful acts concerning computers.”

The search warrant identified a list of items law enforcement officials were allowed to seize, including “documents and records pertaining to Kari Newell,” the business owner who was the subject of the story, Meyer said.

The warrant also specifically targeted ownership of computers and devices or internet service accounts used to “participate in the identify theft of Kari Newell,” he added.

The search warrant allowed the police to seize “computer software and hardware, digital communications, cellular networks, servers and hard drives, items with passwords, utility records, and all documents and records pertaining to Newell.”

Meyer also said that the police injured a reporter when they grabbed a phone out of her hand.

The small town’s five-officer police force and two deputies took part in the raids.

Here is a copy of the search warrant.

A Kansas Bureau of Investigation spokesperson admitted the Marion police asked the bureau to help “with an investigation into ‘illegal access and dissemination of confidential criminal justice information.'”

What Caused the Raid?

According to Meyer, it all started earlier this month when Kari Newell kicked him out along with his reporter Phyllis Zorn from a public meeting with Rep. Jake LaTurner, who represents the area:

Newell confirmed to CNN that she had asked Meyer and his reporter to leave during the public meet-and-greet event with Rep. LaTurner because she believes the newspaper “has a long-standing reputation for twisting and contorting comments within our community.”

“When they came into the establishment, I quietly and politely asked them to exit,” Newell said. “I didn’t feel that their constituents needed to be exposed to any risk of being misquoted.”

Then Meyer and Zorn received a tip about Newell’s drunk driving conviction and how she drove without a license.

Meyer believed someone found out the information from Newell’s husband, who filed for divorce. He also knew the information could jeopardize Newell’s liquor license.

Meyer did not publish the story but told the police about it:

“We thought we were being set up,” Meyer said.

Police notified Newell, who then complained at a city council meeting that the newspaper had illegally obtained and disseminated sensitive documents, which isn’t true. Her public comments prompted the newspaper to set the record straight in a story published Thursday.

Newell went off on the newspaper at a city council meeting. The paper clarified everything in an article on Thursday.

Co-owner and Publisher Said Raid Killed His Mother

Meyer said his 98-year-old mother, Joan, who is also a co-owner, died less than 24 hours after the raid. The Marion County Record reported on Saturday:

Police Justify the Raid

Marion Police Department Chief Gideon Cody told CNN he could not discuss anything about an ongoing investigation:

“I believe when the rest of the story is available to the public, the judicial system that is being questioned will be vindicated,” Chief Cody told CNN in a statement. “I appreciate all the assistance from all the state and local investigators along with the entire judicial process thus far.”

Cody explained in most cases, police are required to use subpoenas rather than search warrants to search the premises of journalists “unless they themselves are suspects in the offense that is the subject of the search.”

Cody added while the Federal Privacy Protection Act protects journalists from most searches of newsrooms by federal and state law enforcement officials, there are certain exceptions in limited circumstances where a subpoena is not needed, including “when there is reason to believe the journalist is taking part in the underlying wrongdoing.”

The judge and the Kansas attorney general offices gave a generic statement:

CNN has reached out to Marion County Court Magistrate Judge Laura Viar, who signed the search warrant, and Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach, who oversees the Kansas Bureau of Investigation that confirmed to CNN the newspaper’s records are being investigated.

“The Marion Police Department and the Marion County Attorney asked the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to join an investigation into the illegal access and dissemination of confidential criminal justice information,” the agency’s communications director Melissa Underwood told CNN.

Newspapers Across the Country Criticize the Police

The First Amendment is vital to the survival of the nation, state, county, city, town, etc.

The Marion County Record did not publish an article about Newell’s information. Meyer admitted one of the reporters confirmed the information by “using the state’s records available online.”

Newell herself confirmed the information given to the newspaper by the source. The paper only published an article when Newell complained about the newspaper at a city council meeting.

Other publications and watchdog groups are furious over the raid:

Press freedom and civil rights organizations agreed that police, the local prosecutor’s office and the judge who signed off on the search warrant overstepped their authority.

“It seems like one of the most aggressive police raids of a news organization or entity in quite some time,” said Sharon Brett, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, adding that it seemed “quite an alarming abuse of authority.”

Seth Stern, director of advocacy for Freedom of the Press Foundation, said in a statement that the raid appeared to have violated federal law, the First Amendment, “and basic human decency.”

“The anti-press rhetoric that’s become so pervasive in this country has become more than just talk and is creating a dangerous environment for journalists trying to do their jobs,” Stern said.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press sent a letter signed by 34 news and press freedom organizations to Cody:

“Newsroom searches and seizures are among the most intrusive actions law enforcement can take with respect to the free press, and the most potentially suppressive of free speech by the press and the public,” the letter said.

“Based on public reporting, the search warrant that has been published online, and your public statements to the press, there appears to be no justification for the breadth and intrusiveness of the search —particularly when other investigative steps may have been available — and we are concerned that it may have violated federal law strictly limiting federal, state, and local law enforcement’s ability to conduct newsroom searches,” the letter said.


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Just taking a page from the scum at the FBI and DoJ. Do something questionable or illegal and then claim you it can’t be discussed due to an ongoing investigation. Next, they’ll be releasing documents that are just walls of redaction.

    CommoChief in reply to Paddy M. | August 14, 2023 at 9:23 am

    Maybe, it would fit the pattern but maybe not. This is the sort of crap that used to occur in small town/communities. The local establishment pushing back using the tools at their disposal. In this case the PD, sometimes they use a zoning issue, sometimes Fish and Game poking around looking for infractions.

    Mary Chastain in reply to Paddy M. | August 14, 2023 at 9:25 am

    Yup. Plus, the newspaper didn’t even publish the story just in case the source obtained the information illegally! They’re all acting like the paper sought out the information. So you’re not supposed to go to the police if you think someone gave you something illegally? No one would have known about any of this if the lady didn’t complain to the city council and let everyone know about it, too. Now she’s acting all shocked and stunned the police raided the paper and the publisher’s home.

      the newspaper didn’t even publish the story just in case the source obtained the information illegally
      Which has me wondering if the information was a plant to get the paper raided so other information could be found.

Here’s the thing I’m wondering: Why is Kari Newell so important?

Yes, yes, everyone is equal under the law but we know how these things generally go; The gears of justice grind slowly. But in the space of just two or three weeks it goes from complaint to full-on five officer raid? I kept rereading to check if Newell held public office or some local government position but I don’t see anything.

So, I have to wonder: Who made the phone call? And why? Who is she married to, sleeping with, related to, friends with to get so much push on this matter?

    Mary Chastain in reply to JohnC. | August 14, 2023 at 9:29 am

    RIGHT?! How did they get a search warrant so quickly? Or does someone within Kansas law enforcement have something against the paper or someone who works there or worked there? Nothing adds up. The paper never published a story on the information b/c they didn’t know if the person obtained it legally. Plus, you’re not supposed to notify the police when you get something you think might have been obtained illegally? No one would have known if Newell didn’t blab and fuss to the city council. Now she’s acting all shocked b/c the raids happened.

    BINGO. This right here!

    Aggie in reply to JohnC. | August 14, 2023 at 4:09 pm

    Not a single photograph is available on line, and no information about Kari Newell’s ‘business’ in Marion. Interesting! That’s a few layers of protective anonymity, there. I wonder who prodded the judge into signing a warrant for something that had no appearance of a crime, identity theft or otherwise. Somebody’s connected.

Maybe it will become clear once the full story is revealed. The Kansas AG office may have to do it..

Evidently the take home lesson from this is that a news organization is allowed to doxx someone only if that person is not of the proper protected political class. Just another example of the two tiered justice system in this country.

    Mary Chastain in reply to Cleetus. | August 14, 2023 at 1:02 pm

    They didn’t doxx anyone. The paper did not publish a story about her because it did not know how the source obtained it. The publisher reported it to the police, who obviously told Newell, who then complained to the city council. The paper only wrote about her after she went off on them at a public meeting.

Cliffs notes says an anonymous source blabs some gossip about a local business owner to the local newspaper, but the newspaper doesn’t publish the gossip, and instead alerts local LEO that something smells fishy. In response, local LEO gets a warrant to raid the newspaper, and the publishers home to seize ‘evidence’ of indentity theft??

This gives ‘try that in a small town’ a whole nuther meaning.

This is the stuff of Peyton Place. The small town cops and magistrate, the overbearing, entitled, restaurant owner – and her now public shame. The bitter, soon to be, ex-husband and his tipster, the longtime sleazy-in-character local newspaperman – for once – unfairly getting stamped-on.

The elderly mother dying is the tragedy. The rest will get sorted.

    GWB in reply to Tiki. | August 14, 2023 at 1:01 pm

    Peyton Place? Heck. As I wrote elsewhere, this was at least one plotline a year in every single tv show from the 70s through the 80s – including Hogan’s Heroes and Hill Street Blues.

The police chief was also being investigated by the newspaper.

Newel is a business owner in town

James O’Keefe says welcome to the latest club member

Newell had two run ins with the press over the past four years- I looked the stories up. In one, she was a witness to a person who broke out of jail while being processed; as he left the building he literally ran in to two of the reporters, She made a video tape of the prisoner stealing a car and being apprehended. In the second incident, she and her husband (a vet who had a double leg amputation) were suing the town for lack of handicap spaces at a new government parking lot (this was a long drawn out fight that the paper covered). She had an axe to grind with their reporting.

E Howard Hunt | August 14, 2023 at 12:26 pm

These cops have no empathy. They should just ask themselves how they would feel if someone interrupted their coffee and donut gabfest by rudely reporting a triple homicide.

“unlawful acts concerning computers.”
That doesn’t seem specific enough for a legal warrant.

    Dathurtz in reply to GWB. | August 14, 2023 at 1:38 pm

    Do judges refuse warrants? It seems every one I ever hear about is incredibly vague and often unjustified. But, maybe that’s why I hear about them.

Other publications and watchdog groups are furious over the raid:
Of course other press outlets are worried about it. It’s their own ox being gored.
How upset were those same outlets by all the other raids the police have conducted over the last 10 years? Or the ATF showing up at a law-abiding citizen’s home? Or no-knock raids? Or the harassment of “right-wing” media?

I’d like to see a Republican president get a warrant to raid the New York Times newsroom for possession of classified information, and have the warrant allow summary execution of any person who resists in any way, and then have a platoon of Marines with fixed bayonets execute the warrant.

fishingfool55 | August 14, 2023 at 4:03 pm

“ illegal access and dissemination of confidential criminal justice information”

This smells like a judge sealed the info on this case.

Subotai Bahadur | August 14, 2023 at 5:12 pm

In today’s post-constitutional world as long as a member of the Nomenklatura passed the order properly through the local Zampolit the judge had to issue the warrant. [that is less /sarc than I would like]

Subotai Bahadur

Hm. Over at another blog I frequent, the narrative is that the police chief had an ulterior motive for this raid, in that he believed the paper was about to do a story on the sex scandal that cost him his previous position.

I have no problem condemning this raid, but I have a big problem condemning it more than many similar raids that are routinely made on people not involved in the news industry.

Reporters — or as they like to call themselves, “journalists” — are not special. They are not more important than plumbers, hairdressers, or telephone sanitizers. The constitution gives them no special privileges, and no role in our system of government. They flatter themselves by calling reporting a profession rather than a trade, and their industry a “fourth estate”, though not one in ten of them can say what an estate is, or what the first three are.

Remember, when the first amendment protects the “freedom […] of the press” it is not referring to any industry or set of people; it simply means the right to publish whatever one likes. It is exactly the same as the freedom of speech, but in writing. “The freedom of speech and of the press” is just another term for what we usually call “the freedom of expression”. Nobody has that freedom more than anybody else, or is entitled to more protection because of it. And regulations that do give the news industry such special privileges very likely violate the constitutional prohibition of titles of nobility.

The First Amendment is vital to the survival of the nation, state, county, city, town, etc.

True, but no more true in regard to the news industry than to anyone else.

“It seems like one of the most aggressive police raids of a news organization or entity in quite some time,”

Maybe so, but there have been many more aggressive raids of other people, who are no less important and whose constitutional rights are no weaker.

“Newsroom searches and seizures are among the most intrusive actions law enforcement can take with respect to the free press, and the most potentially suppressive of free speech by the press and the public,” the letter said.

This is nothing but special pleading by this one pampered, privileged industry. Newsrooms are entitled to no more protection or privilege than any other premises.

“The anti-press rhetoric that’s become so pervasive in this country has become more than just talk and is creating a dangerous environment for journalists trying to do their jobs,” Stern said.

99% of the “anti-press rhetoric that’s become so pervasive in this society” is justified. “Journalists” have created dangerous environments for other people doing their jobs, most of which are far more important than those of the “journalists” themselves. Particularly policemen. So I shed no tears when they return the favor.

I believe that this is just more action by the Marxists to destroy the fabric of this country. They bought and infiltrated the politicians, academia, the media, businesses the border and now are trying to disable the police.

Can it be any more apparent that the Marxists are doing what Marxists do, and that is destroy prosperous, free market societies?

It is time to force the leftist scum back into the sewers they came from, before the country completely unravels. There’s no place else to go.

We have to stop demonstrating a national abused wife syndrome and fight back.