Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R), having made a dreadful mess of his home state, isn’t sticking around to clean it up. The Kansas City Star reported:
Gov. Sam Brownback will give up the governor’s mansion in Topeka to take a relatively obscure ambassadorship after seeing his power and popularity severely diminished in the last year.
The Kansas Legislature overrode Brownback’s veto to repeal his signature tax cuts a little more than a month before President Donald Trump selected him to serve as the next ambassador at-large for international religious freedom, a position based in Washington, D.C., where Brownback spent 16 years as a member of the U.S. House and Senate.
The far-right governor’s departure marks the end of an error. After taking office, Brownback launched a radical economic “experiment” after taking office seven years ago, and it failed spectacularly. As regular readers know, the far-right Kansan, working with a GOP-led legislature, cut taxes far beyond what the state could afford, slashed public investments, and waited for prosperity to flourish across every corner of the state.
None of that has happened. Not only have Kansas’ job growth and economic growth rates lagged behind neighboring states, but the state’s budget is in shambles, and Kansas’ debt rating has been downgraded multiple times.
The Kansas City Star spoke to Joy Koesten, a Republican state representative, who said it will likely take a very long time to undo the effects of Brownback’s tenure.
“I don’t think we truly know what that is yet,” Koesten said. “I think we’ve seen the surface damage, but I don’t know that we’ve seen the depth of the damage. And I think it’s going to take us a decade or more to figure that out and to fix it. So if that’s a legacy, I’m not sure that it’s a positive one.”
As for Brownback’s next gig, The New Republic’s Sarah Jones explained that the Kansas Republican is ill-suited for his new role, too.
The ambassador-at-large heads State’s Office of International Religious Freedom. Religious freedom is an integral plank in a broader human rights platform, and the position is also responsible for conducting outreach to various American religious groups.
Which means Brownback, an arch-Christian conservative, is exactly the wrong choice for the role. As governor, he signed a useless ban on Shariah law that singled out the state’s Muslim residents for no valid reason. He waged constant war on separation of church and state, especially in public schools, and consistently promoted religious events and programming in his official capacity as governor. His appointment sends a dangerous message, especially in light of a May speech delivered by Mike Pence that promised assembled religious leaders that the Trump administration considered global religious freedom a major priority.
Don’t be surprised if Brownback’s record of failure continues.