Brownback pick for religion post
TOPEKA, Kan. — The White House on Wednesday announced that President Donald Trump plans to nominate Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to serve as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.
If confirmed by the Senate, he’ll run the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom.
Brownback, who made Kansas an economic laboratory for the nation by aggressively cutting taxes, is expected to leave office with his Kansas reputation in tatters and his home state an example of trickle-down economics that didn’t work.
Kansas officials expect Brownback to step down as governor when he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, but his office wouldn’t discuss his plans Wednesday evening. Brownback’s fellow Republicans called the job a good fit for him, and some conservative religious groups had pushed for the appointment.
“Sam has always been called to fight for those of all faiths, and I am glad he has been given an opportunity to answer this call,” said state Sen. Pat Roberts, a fellow Republican.
Brownback’s departure would automatically elevate fellow conservative Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer to governor.
Brownback, 60, served in the U.S. Senate before his election as governor in 2010 and was an early advocate of U.S. action to stop genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region, and visited Congo and Rwanda to condemn the humanitarian crises and call for better coordination in foreign aid programs.
In a tweet late Wednesday, Brownback called religious freedom “the first freedom” and said he was honored “to serve such an important cause.”
But Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-rights group, blasted Brownback’s nomination because of Brownback’s conservative views on issues such as same-sex marriage.
“He has caused enough damage here in Kansas,” Witt said in a statement. “We do not wish him upon the world.”
Brownback has long been a favorite of Christian conservatives for his strong stances as a U.S. senator against abortion and same-sex marriage.