Like any other Kansan, state Senate President Susan Wagle has every right to endorse a candidate in the gubernatorial race. But she does not have the right to ballyhoo her endorsement of Kris Kobach from her official state email account, under her official Senate letterhead.
Though we’re not shouting, “Lock her up!” or anything, Kansas law does bar state officeholders and employees from using any public funds, time, equipment or supplies to “expressly advocate” the nomination or election of a candidate.
“We weren’t intending to violate any ethics laws,” said Harrison Hems, Wagle’s chief of staff.
Maybe not. You’d think such a prominent member of the same Kansas Republican Party that has been on the lookout for any public school teachers using their official email for campaign purposes would have known better.
But either Wagle didn’t know or didn’t care. And on Wednesday, less than two weeks ahead of the Aug. 7 primary, the Wichita Republican sent out the message, via her official account and under her letterhead, that “I am proud to endorse Kris Kobach and I ask my fellow Republicans to stand with the candidate who best reflects Kansas values.”
Wagle, who at one point considered running against Kobach, picked the voter-fraud-obsessed secretary of state over current Gov. Jeff Colyer, Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer and former state senator Jim Barnett.
“I find it interesting that Sen. Wagle is endorsing the secretary of state after he has referred to Topeka and the Legislature as corrupt and as part of the swamp,” Selzer said.
We find it interesting that Wagle, who has traveled quite an ideological distance since she ran on the ticket with moderate GOP gubernatorial nominee Barnett in 2006, seems to think it’s Kobach, the most extreme candidate in the race, who will win the nomination.
Way back last year, when she was considering taking him on herself, she said, “There’s a desire out there for stability in state government and leadership. We’ve had a rocky road for the last few years, we’ve been walking down a rocky road, and I think people are looking for a leader who can manage the budget, can manage the Legislature and put forth a vision for Kansas.”
Now, her vision for Kansas is that Kobach is that leader.
— The Kansas City Star