Author

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith is the Kansas Press Association’s journalist of the year. He has written award-winning news stories about the instability of the Kansas foster care system, misconduct by government officials, sexual abuse, technology, education, and the Legislature. He previously spent 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal. A lifelong Kansan, he graduated from Emporia State University in 2004 as a Shepherd Scholar with a degree in English.

Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla, the Democratic nominee for Congress in the 2nd District, laughs during a news conference Tuesday about the suggestion by Kim Borchers that the mayor is angling for the "woke vote" by pursuing police reform. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Politics, misinformation undermine Topeka debate on police reform

By: - August 25, 2020

Kim Borchers wants Topeka residents to be afraid. Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla wants people to stop paying attention to lies they see online. A Kansas delegate to the Republican National Convention, Borchers hurled a Molotov cocktail of misinformation, anger and fear into public debate on police reform during a live Facebook video earlier […]

Federal authorities indicted organizers for the We Build the Wall campaign for allegedly lying about not taking personal payments. The hardline immigration group funded construction of a wall on private land along the Rio Grande. (Dec. 11, 2019, photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Bannon, others indicted in scheme to siphon We Build the Wall funds

By: - August 20, 2020

TOPEKA — Federal authorities on Thursday announced the indictment of Steve Bannon, Brian Kolfage and two others for siphoning payments from a crowdsourced fund to privately build a border wall with Mexico. Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who serves as general counsel for the nonprofit that manages the $25 million campaign, isn’t named […]

Democrat Aaron Coleman, of Kansas City, Kan., says controversy about his stalking women while in middle school and other issues lead him to believe it best to quit his race for the 37th District seat in the Kansas House. He won the August primary against Rep. Stan Frownfelter. (Submitted to Kansas Reflector)

Frownfelter to attempt write-in campaign

By: - August 18, 2020

Democratic Rep. Stan Frownfelter will attempt to hang onto his seat in the Kansas Legislature through a write-in campaign after losing a primary challenge to a teenager who wished death on Republicans and admitted to distributing revenge porn. Aaron Coleman, 19, will be the only name on the November ballot for the 37th District legislative […]

Former Emporia resident Brandon Flint, seen Wednesday in downtown Sioux City, Iowa, spent five years wrangling with the legal system in Kansas. With the help of Carl Folsom, the public defender maligned by Senate Republicans in June, the Army veteran testified before the Legislature and eventually cleared his name. (Jerry L. Mennenga for Kansas Reflector)

Before Kansas Senate snubbed Carl Folsom, he helped veteran beat faulty felony

By: - August 13, 2020

TOPEKA — Emporia authorities didn’t view Brandon Flint’s actions favorably when he walked out of a nightclub in 2008 and rescued his fiancee from an attack by two men. The U.S. Army veteran, who had served two tours in Iraq, retrieved a handgun from his car and pointed his weapon at the attackers as they […]

Foster care providers received millions in Payment Protection Loans to adapt services, which include food donations, during the pandemic. (KVC Kansas)

Foster care providers turned to PPP loans as pandemic intensified family stress

By: - August 9, 2020

TOPEKA — Foster care agencies in Kansas leaned on large federally backed loans during the pandemic to avoid furloughs and acquire technology needed to provide services to thousands of suddenly isolated children and their caretakers. As most of the state sheltered in place, uncertainty over the rapidly spreading deadly pathogen heightened stress and financial pressures […]

Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at the University of Kansas Health System, answers questions during a virtual media briefing Friday. (Screenshot by Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas governor tests negative for coronavirus after House speaker says he caught virus

By: and - August 7, 2020

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly tested negative for COVID-19 on Friday following disclosure by House Speaker Ron Ryckman that he had been hospitalized for a week with coronavirus in July. A political firestorm erupted on Thursday following Ryckman’s disclosure that he tested positive for the coronavirus on July 13. He was criticized for delaying for […]

House Speaker Ron Ryckman, an Olathe Republican, said the 2021 Legislature would have benefit of new safety protocols to limit potential spread of COVID-19. He said a bright spot in the process was implementing new live streaming capabilities to make House and Senate work more transparent. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman infected, hospitalized with COVID-19 in July

By: - August 6, 2020

Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman acknowledged Thursday he was infected last month with COVID-19 and spent a week in the hospital. The Republican from Olathe said he recovered from the illness, tested negative for the virus and received clearance from a doctor before attending a meeting last week with the governor and other legislative leaders. […]

Gov. Laura Kelly, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and other public and business leaders discuss details of the Urban Outfitters investment during a virtual news conference Wednesday. (Screenshot/Kansas Reflector)

Urban Outfitters plans $350M investment near Kansas Speedway

By: - August 5, 2020

Urban Outfitters announced plans Wednesday to invest $350 million in a new, 880,00-square-foot distribution center to be built in Wyandotte County. The multinational retail company, which sells clothing and other consumer goods, says it will create 2,000 jobs through the long-term investment. State officials said public incentives involved with the deal won’t be finalized or […]

U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, right, the 1st District congressman and GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, welcomes President Donald Trump's latest executive orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic . (Veronica Coons/Great Bend Tribune)

U.S. Senate: Marshall defeats Kobach in GOP primary, will face Bollier

By: - August 4, 2020

TOPEKA — U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall defeated GOP rival Kris Kobach on Tuesday in a U.S. Senate primary thronged with mud-slinging fortified by out-of-state cash and meddling by optimistic Democrats. The two-term congressman from the 1st District led a pack of 11 men after a mad dash to the far right in which candidates tried […]

The ksvotes.org website offers the best platform for registering to vote online, but language in the privacy policy raises concerns about the data being collected and whether it could ever be used for political purposes. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Privacy concerns shadow popular voter registration website

By: - August 2, 2020

The 41,700 people who have turned to ksvotes.org as a superior alternative to the state’s primitive online platform for voter registration probably don’t realize they signed away their personal information to be used in targeted advertisements. Language in the site’s privacy policy gives permission to Blueprint Kansas, the organization that operates ksvotes.org, to collect contact […]

Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said wearing masks, improving testing capacity and isolating people infected with COVID-19 was the best approach during the pandemic as long as there is no approved vaccine. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

‘A lot of anger’: Kansas authorities on alert for threats to health officers

By: - July 30, 2020

TOPEKA — Kansas Department of Health and Environment secretary Lee Norman says he is used to “looking over my shoulder,” behavior the lieutenant colonel in the Kansas Army National Guard learned while serving as senior medical commander in a combat zone. Norman again finds himself under threat of attack. Public health officials across the the […]

Felony charges against Rep. Steve Watkins have become a flashpoint in his GOP primary race against state Treasurer Jake LaTurner. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Affidavit: Rep. Steve Watkins lied about address change, not voting

By: - July 29, 2020

A Shawnee County sheriff’s detective in her affidavit report says U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins lied to her when he claimed he didn’t actually vote in a local election and wasn’t responsible for listing a UPS store as his home address. Video surveillance and a review of mail-in ballots provide the basis for three felony charges […]