Brown­back pick for re­li­gion post

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

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.

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