Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith is the editor in chief of Kansas Reflector. He writes about things that powerful people don't want you to know. A two-time Kansas Press Association journalist of the year, his award-winning reporting includes stories about education, technology, foster care, voting, COVID-19, sex abuse, and access to reproductive health care. Before founding Kansas Reflector in 2020, he spent 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal. He graduated from Emporia State University in 2004, back when the school still valued English and journalism. He was raised in the country at the end of a dead end road in Lyon County.

Sen. Mike Thompson, a Shawnee Republican, invited election deniers to spread fears about the integrity of Kansas elections during a two-day hearing

Voting rights advocates pan Kansas Republican’s ‘invite-only stage for election conspiracies’

By: - September 28, 2023

TOPEKA — Mary Lou Davis was disappointed and frustrated Thursday by a legislative committee’s promotion of election conspiracy theories. If Davis, the president of the League of Women Voters of Topeka and Shawnee County, had been allowed to testify at the one-sided hearing, this is what she would have told lawmakers: “Voter registration is vital […]

Emporia State University

Emporia State University defends changes ahead of declining enrollment report

By: - September 26, 2023

EMPORIA — Emporia State University president Ken Hush downplayed the significance of the university’s declining enrollment in an open letter Tuesday preempting the official release of fall enrollment figures across state universities. The Kansas Board of Regents plans to release enrollment figures Wednesday, and the numbers will show a decline at ESU. The extent isn’t […]

Miami County Commissioner Rob Roberts, left, and Bruce Chladny, executive director of the Kansas Association of Counties, appear for a Sept. 22, 2023, recording of the Kansas Reflector podcast

Kansas counties eager for lawmakers to resurrect property tax relief fund

By: - September 25, 2023

TOPEKA — The Legislature’s perennial failure to invest in lowering local property taxes left Miami County with a budget dilemma this year. The sheriff’s office, competing with higher wages for law enforcement in the neighboring Kansas City metro area, was about 20 deputies short of a full staff. Faced with the prospect of raising property […]

Scales of Justice

Kansas judge rejects prosecutor’s attempt to seal affidavit by insulting newspaper

By: - September 19, 2023

TOPEKA — Douglas County District Judge Stacey Donovan says a prosecutor’s criticism of the Lawrence Journal-World raises First Amendment concerns and is “beneath the dignity” of district attorney’s office. Joshua Seiden, Douglas County deputy district attorney, had tried to persuade the judge to seal an affidavit in the arrest of a homeless man because he […]

Gov. Laura Kelly walks to fill out her ballot Oct. 25, 2022, at the Shawnee County Election Office in Topeka.

‘When is it going to be our time?’ Young Kansas voters jilted by candidates and election barriers

By: - September 15, 2023

This article is part of U.S. Democracy Day, a nationwide collaborative on Sept. 15, the International Day of Democracy, in which news organizations cover how democracy works and the threats it faces. To learn more, visit TOPEKA — The way Dustin Morris sees it, his generation was sold a lot of false hope. You […]

House Speaker Dan Hawkins appears April 27, 2023, on the House floor with an image of Corky — the Emporia State University mascot.

Emporia State University forges new identity with $9M earmark from Kansas Legislature

By: - September 12, 2023

TOPEKA — Emporia State University’s new structure, underwritten by a $9 million earmark in the state budget, comes with a new marketing slogan and a new explanation for last year’s dramatic upheaval. Legislative leaders and university administrators describe the so-called “ESU model,” which involved the firing of tenured faculty members under the guise of a […]

A new lawsuit says Marion Police Chief Gideon Cody, top left, spearheaded the Aug. 11 raid of the Marion County Record in retaliation against the journalists who worked there. Reporter Deb Gruver's desk appears at the bottom right

Kansas reporter sues Marion police chief, alleging retaliation in newsroom raid

By: - August 30, 2023

TOPEKA — Police Chief Gideon Cody arrived at the Marion County Record and handed a copy of a search warrant to Deb Gruver, the veteran reporter who had questioned him about alleged misconduct at his previous job. As Gruver read the search warrant, she told Cody she needed to call her publisher and editor, Eric […]

Marion County Record reporter Phyllis Zorn and Sheriff Jeff Soyez stand outside the evidence room where an undersheriff signs over newspaper property to a forensic expert.

Sheriff’s office agrees to destroy evidence obtained from raid on Kansas newspaper

By: - August 24, 2023

TOPEKA — The Marion County Sheriff’s Office agreed Thursday to destroy digital files it copied from computers seized during the raid on the Marion County Record. Bernie Rhodes, an attorney for the newspaper, raised concerns about whether law enforcement had altered a list of evidence from the raid and illegally held onto a previously undisclosed […]

A supporter with a box of donuts early Aug. 16, 2023, turns away from the locked door of the Marion County Record. The woman, who declined to give her name, returned later and successfully delivered the donuts in a show of support for the paper.

After Kansas newspaper raid, lawmaker proposes taking warrant power away from magistrates

By: - August 22, 2023

TOPEKA — House Minority Leader Vic Miller said Tuesday he would introduce legislation to take away a magistrate’s power to authorize a search warrant, addressing one problematic aspect of the circumstances surrounding the raid on the Marion County Record. Miller, a Topeka Democrat, said he hopes the proposal will launch a conversation that could expand […]

Kansas Supreme Court Justice Melissa Standridge announces at an Aug. 22, 2023, conference in Topeka that a child welfare summit will take place next year.

Kansas Supreme Court plans child welfare summit to forge ‘better paths forward’

By: - August 22, 2023

TOPEKA — Kansas Supreme Court Justice Melissa Standridge on Tuesday announced plans for a two-day summit next year to brainstorm innovative solutions for problems surrounding child welfare in Kansas. Standridge said the summit would be a collaboration among the three branches of government, the legal community, child welfare partners and experts, and families and children […]

Marion County Record publisher Eric Meyer gestures during an Aug. 16, 2023, news conference at the newspaper office

‘Completely unjustified’: Affidavits point to abuse of power in raid on Kansas newspaper

By: - August 20, 2023

TOPEKA — Affidavits signed by a police chief and magistrate to warrant the raid on the Marion County Record were supposed to provide evidence that a reporter committed a crime. Instead, they serve as evidence that the local officials abused their power. Police Chief Gideon Cody received approval from Magistrate Judge Laura Viar to conduct […]

Marion County Record reporter Phyllis Zorn and Sheriff Jeff Soyez stand outside the evidence room where an undersheriff signs over newspaper property to a forensic expert.

Kobach: KBI looking into possible data breach in Kansas newspaper case

By: and - August 17, 2023

TOPEKA — Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach says state authorities reviewing alleged crimes associated with the raid of a Marion newspaper are interested in whether someone breached the Kansas Criminal Justice Information System. Police raided the Marion County Record last week after the newspaper received information from a confidential source about the criminal history of […]