Senator responds to criticism over vacation

Published On: Apr 08 2014 05:08:53 PM CDT   Updated On: Apr 08 2014 05:22:36 PM CDT

Senator Ty Masterson, (R) Andover, a key player in the negotiations on the school funding bill, faces criticism for not seeing the process through to a vote before leaving for vacation.

An op-ed piece posted Monday on the Butler County Times-Gazette website read: "Teachers get burned while Masterson gets a tan."

Publisher Kent Bush wrote "Because he was on vacation, Masterson didn't have the pleasure of sticking it to K-12 teachers."

The quote was a reference to the controversial decision to end due process for teachers, effectively streamlining the firing process for schools.

Bush went on to describe Masterson as a nice guy to "chat" with, but a terrible choice to determine educational policy.

FactFinder 12 Investigators wanted to know the facts about how and why Masterson left before the legislature's work was complete.

"I understand the perception.  It's a false perception, but I do understand the perception," the Senator said when reached by phone in Jamaica Tuesday.

Click here to read Sen. Masterson's response

Masterson said he scheduled the trip back in January to celebrate his 20th wedding anniversary.  He planned to leave Sunday expecting the session would end as scheduled on Friday.  Masterson said in all his years in the legislature he's never seen a regular session run so long.

The Republican from Andover stayed in Topeka until 3:30 a.m. Sunday when he believed the deal was done.  He then rushed to Wichita to catch a 6:30 a.m. flight on no sleep.  He called the op-ed a partisan political attack.

"I negotiated until it was done.  And my vote in the end would not have changed the outcome," he said, noting the measure passed by six votes, 22-16.

The op-ed piece also tried to draw connections between supporters of the school funding bill and the Koch brothers.  Masterson told FactFinder 12 he's never met the Kochs and had no conversations about the school funding bill with anyone from Koch Industries or its political advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity. 

Kansas campaign finance reports do show Koch Industries made two separate donations to Masterson's campaign in 2011 and 2012 totaling $2000.