Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith is the editor of the Kansas Reflector. He was the Kansas Press Association’s 2021 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.

Kansas governor slams brakes on new license plate: ‘I’ve heard you loud and clear’

By: - November 29, 2023

TOPEKA — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said Tuesday she would halt production of a widely panned new license plate and return to the drawing board. Republicans and Democrats recoiled last week when the state unveiled a blazing yellow model to replace the current design, in place since 2008, which places the state seal on a […]

Marion County Record publishes in defiance of police raid — and gets seized property back

By: - August 17, 2023

MARION — Marion County Record staff worked through the night to publish the paper’s weekly edition as scheduled Wednesday, days after police raided the newsroom and confiscated computers, cellphones and other items. A single word screamed across the top of the paper in 200-point bold type — “SEIZED” — followed by a defiant statement: “… […]

Kansas House agrees to raise legal smoking age to 21

By: - March 3, 2023

TOPEKA — The Kansas House passed legislation Thursday to raise the legal age for tobacco products from 18 to 21. House Bill 2269 — which applies to the sale, purchase or possession of cigarette and tobacco products — would bring Kansas into compliance with federal law. The House granted initial approval after a brief debate, […]

Saint Francis Ministries

Federal grand jury indicts former Kansas foster care officials on fraud charges

By: - November 11, 2022

TOPEKA — A federal grand jury has indicted the former CEO and IT director of Saint Francis Ministries for scheming to defraud the foster care provider of at least $4.7 million in fake invoices. The indictment follows a two-year investigation into accusations of financial mismanagement that led to the dismissal of former CEO Robert “Father […]

Kansas foster care provider reviewed failures in Nebraska before agreeing to end contract

By: - September 7, 2022

TOPEKA — Officials from Saint Francis Ministries met with Nebraska regulators on Dec. 9, 2021, to review the organization’s failure to comply with the terms of its state contract. The Kansas-based foster care provider had struggled to provide medical records for all the children it served, or documentation of in-home services and monthly visits, or […]

Kansas foster care provider criticizes coverage while Nebraska lawmaker asks for fraud inquiry

By: - September 1, 2022

TOPEKA — Kansas’ largest foster care contractor responded to Kansas Reflector reporting on the organization’s finances and litigation by pointing to a turnaround under current leadership and a willingness to cooperate with investigators. Saint Francis Ministries said statements published in an Aug. 12 story are “inaccurate” and “false” but wouldn’t identify specific statements in question. […]

Election official says recount of Kansas abortion amendment vote proves election integrity

By: - August 22, 2022

TOPEKA — Secretary of State Scott Schwab says the result of a nine-county hand recount of ballots from the Aug. 2 election shows there is no systemic election fraud in Kansas. The weeklong recount produced little change in vote totals showing Kansans overwhelming rejected a constitutional amendment on abortion. After exhausted election workers took a […]

Saint Francis Ministries

Kansas foster care provider sues former leaders over alleged financial misconduct

By: - August 12, 2022

TOPEKA — The former CEO, chief counsel and IT director for Saint Francis Ministries used their positions to enrich themselves and their friends as the charity neared financial insolvency, according to allegations made in state and federal lawsuits. The Salina-based foster care provider in court documents accused the trinity of overbilling for IT and legal […]

Kansas voters defeat abortion amendment in unexpected landslide

By: and - August 3, 2022

OVERLAND PARK — Kansas voters in a landslide Tuesday defeated a constitutional amendment that would have stripped residents of abortion rights, defying polling and political observers who expected a close result. The ballot measure was failing by a 60-40 margin late Tuesday after voters responded to an intense and costly campaign marked by dubious claims […]

AltEn ethanol plant

Nebraska company attempts to unload toxic waste on Kansas farmer

By: - January 25, 2022

TOPEKA — A Nebraska company nearly unloaded its toxic ethanol byproduct on an unsuspecting Topeka farmer before regulators intervened in late December. AltEn, which is under close observation after creating an environmental crisis in Mead, Nebraska, didn’t disclose the risks of its biochar before selling it to Brady Yingling, owner of B. Cole Agriculture, according […]