Sam Brownback

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Sam Brownback
Sam Brownback, official Governor's portrait.png
46th Governor of Kansas
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 10, 2011
Lieutenant Jeff Colyer
Preceded by Mark Parkinson
United States Senator
from Kansas
In office
November 7, 1996 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Sheila Frahm
Succeeded by Jerry Moran
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kansas's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1995 – November 7, 1996
Preceded by Jim Slattery
Succeeded by Jim Ryun
Personal details
Born Samuel Dale Brownback
(1956-09-12) September 12, 1956 (age 57)
Garnett, Kansas, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Mary Brownback
Children 5
Residence Cedar Crest
Alma mater Kansas State University
University of Kansas, Lawrence
Profession Attorney
Religion Roman Catholicism
Signature

Samuel Dale "Sam" Brownback (born September 12, 1956) is an American politician, the 46th and current Governor of Kansas. A member of the Republican Party, he served in the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 1996, representing Kansas's 2nd congressional district, and was then elected to the United States Senate, serving Kansas from 1996 to 2011. He ran for president in 2008, but withdrew before the primaries began and endorsed the eventual Republican nominee, John McCain.[1][2][3] He was elected Governor of Kansas in 2010 and took office in January 2011.

Brownback supported the 2007 Iraq War troop surge and has also voiced his support for Israel.[4] He supports marriage as the union of a man and a woman. He has described himself as pro-life.[5] As Governor, Brownback signed into law one of the largest income tax cuts in Kansas' history,[6] turned down a $31.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to set up an insurance exchange as part of the federal health care reform law[7] and has signed a pro-life bill that blocked tax breaks for abortion providers, banned sex-selection abortions and declared that life begins at fertilization.[8]

Early life[edit]

Brownback was born September 12, 1956, in Garnett, Kansas, the son of Nancy and Glenn Robert Brownback.[9] He was raised in a farming family in Parker, Kansas; his distant ancestors, of German descent, settled in Kansas after leaving Pennsylvania following the Civil War.[10] Brownback was state president of the Kansas FFA Association, and was one of the national vice presidents of the National FFA Organization from 1976 to 1977.[11] While at Kansas State University, he was elected student body president and was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho.[12] He received his J.D. from the University of Kansas in 1982.[13]

After college, Brownback spent about a year working as a broadcaster; he hosted a weekly half-hour show.[10][14]

Personal life[edit]

Family[edit]

Brownback is married to Mary Brownback (née Stauffer), whose family owned and operated a successful media company until its sale in 1995.[15] They have five children: Abby, Andy, Elizabeth, Mark, and Jenna; two of their children are adopted.[16]

Religion[edit]

Senator Brownback discusses science and religion in American politics in October 2007, during his Presidential run. A full transcript is found here.

Brownback told Rolling Stone that he had moved from mainline Protestantism to evangelicalism before his 2002 conversion to Catholicism.[17]

Raised as a Methodist, Brownback later joined a nondenominational evangelical church, Topeka Bible Church, which he still regularly attends, even though in 2002 he was received into Catholicism through Father C. John McCloskey from the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross in Washington DC.[citation needed]

Brownback was a cosponsor of the Constitution Restoration Act, which would have limited the power of federal courts to rule on church/state issues. When he was a senator, Brownback told Rolling Stone that he chaired the Senate Values Action Team, an off-the-record weekly meeting of representatives from religious conservative organizations.[citation needed]

Early career[edit]

Brownback was an attorney in Manhattan, Kansas[10] before becoming the Kansas secretary of agriculture in 1986. In 1990, he was accepted into the White House Fellow program and detailed to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative from 1990 to 1991. Brownback then returned to Kansas to resume his position as secretary of agriculture and remained in that position until 1993. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1994 and next ran in the 1996 special election to replace Senator Bob Dole, who had resigned his seat during his presidential campaign, beating appointed Republican Sheila Frahm.

U.S. Senator[edit]

Elections[edit]

Sheila Frahm was appointed to fill the seat of U.S. Senator Bob Dole when Dole resigned in 1996 to campaign for president. Brownback defeated Frahm in the 1996 Republican primary and went on to win the general election against Democrat Jill Docking.[citation needed] In 1998 Brownback was elected to a full six-year term, defeating Democrat Paul Feleciano. He won reelection in the 2004 Senate election with 69% of the vote, defeating his Democratic challenger, Lee Jones, a former Washington, D.C. lobbyist.[citation needed]

Tenure[edit]

Portrait of Sam Brownback while a member of the United States Senate

Brownback was a member of the Judiciary Committee, the Senate Appropriations Committee (where he chaired the Subcommittee on District of Columbia when the Republicans were in the majority), the Joint Economic Committee, and the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, which he at one time chaired. The Helsinki Commission monitors compliance with international agreements reached in cooperation with Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.[citation needed]

Brownback did not run for reelection in 2010, in accordance with his support of term limits for members of Congress.[18]

In 2000, Brownback and Congressman Chris Smith led the effort to enact the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.[19] President Clinton signed the legislation in October 2000. According to Christianity Today, the stronger enforcement increased the number of U.S. federal trafficking cases eightfold in the five years after enactment.[20]

In 2001 Brownback submitted S.1465[107], which authorized Presidential waivers for foreign aid to Pakistan. S.1465[107] passed by a unanimous unrecorded vote of Senators present.[citation needed] The Pakistani government used U.S. foreign aid in an attempt to bribe Mujahideen and Taliban militants inside that country. Taliban commanders and Mujahideen commander Nek Mohammed openly admitted that they intended to use the foreign aid money to repay loans which they had received from al Qaeda.[citation needed]

As of August 12, 2007, in the 110th Session of Congress, Brownback had missed 123 votes due to campaigning (39.7 percent) — surpassed only by Tim Johnson (D) of South Dakota who due to a critical illness had missed 100% of the votes of the 110th Session, and John McCain (R) of Arizona with 149 votes missed due to campaigning (48.1 percent).[21]

As of April, 2012, Brownback had an approval rating of 34 percent according to a Survey USA Poll.[22] A Republican polling company found his approval rating to be 51 percent in May 2012.[23]

C Street residence[edit]

On April 1, 2010, news sources reported that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) had urged an ethics investigation into a possible violation of the Senate's gifts rule by Republican senators lodging in a townhome owned by C Street Center, Inc., in turn owned by Christian-advocacy group The Fellowship.[citation needed] According to the report, Brownback, three additional senators, and four U.S. representatives were staying in the townhome. CREW alleged that the property, rented out for $950 a month per person, was being let well under the rate of similar lodging in the neighborhood, which regularly ran from $4,400 to $7,500.[citation needed]

Brownback supporters argued that the rooms rented out at C Street were not the equivalent of individual apartments with private bathrooms, kitchens, and living rooms.[citation needed] The lawmakers share communal space. Senator Tom Coburn's spokesman John Hart told The Hill: "Anyone who has spent 10 minutes on Craigslist would realize that C Street residents pay fair-market value,” Hart said. “Residents at the [C Street] boarding house have one bedroom. Most share a bathroom. All pay for their own meals and share personal space with the other residents and guests. They even share the remote … they fight over their favorite channel.”[24] In addition, Hart has pointed out that there are several Craigslist ads that demonstrate that $950 is clearly fair market value for a room on Capitol Hill.[24][25]

Committees[edit]

Film[edit]

In their documentary How Democracy Works Now: Twelve Stories, filmmakers Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini provide a behind-the-scenes look at Brownback's and the Kansas Republican Party's response to the issue of immigration in the early-2000s. Brownback was a Senator at the time of filming.[citation needed]

  • "Story 3: You Never Know" uses the Kansas Republican Party as a case-study for the ongoing debates within the Republican Party. It focuses on a vacation David Kensinger (Brownback’s chief of staff) took from Capitol Hill in 2002 to guide three conservative Kansas candidates who challenge mainstream party nominees.[citation needed]
  • "Story 4: Sam in the Snow" focuses largely on (then Senator) Brownback's eagerness to promote comprehensive immigration reform in 2002. The film also chronicles his choice between Senate Judiciary Committee and his upcoming chairmanship of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration. The film's title refers to Brownback.[citation needed]

2008 presidential campaign[edit]

On December 4, 2006, Brownback formed an exploratory committee, the first step toward candidacy, and announced his presidential bid the next day.[26] His views placed him in the social conservative wing of the Republican party, and he stressed his fiscal conservatism. "I am an economic, a fiscal, a social and a compassionate conservative," he said in December 2006.[27] On January 20, 2007, in Topeka, he announced that he was running for President in 2008.[28] On February 22, 2007, a poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports held that three percent of likely primary voters would support Brownback.[29]

Official US Senator portrait.

On August 11, 2007, Brownback finished third in the Ames Iowa straw poll with 15.3 percent of all votes cast. Fundraising and visits to his website declined dramatically after this event, as many supporters had predicted Brownback would do much better,[citation needed] and speculation began that the candidate was considering withdrawing from the campaign. This sentiment increased after his lackluster performance in the GOP presidential debate of September 5, broadcast from New Hampshire by Fox News Channel.[30] He dropped out of the race on October 18, 2007, citing a lack of funds.[31] He formally announced his decision on October 19.[32] He later endorsed John McCain for president.[33]

Governor[edit]

2010 gubernatorial campaign[edit]

In 2008, Brownback acknowledged he was considering running for governor in 2010.[34] In January 2009, Brownback officially filed the paperwork to run for governor.[35]

Polling agency Rasmussen Reports found that Brownback led his then-likely Democratic opponent, Tom Holland, by 31 points in May 2010.[1][36]

On June 1, 2010, Brownback named Kansas state Senator Jeff Colyer as his running mate.[37]

On Nov. 2, 2010, Brownback won the over Holland with 63.3% of the vote, replacing Governor Mark Parkinson, who was sworn in after former Governor Kathleen Sebelius resigned from her position and accepted the appointment to US Secretary of Health and Human Services in 2009.

Legislative agenda[edit]

Governor Brownback has made reviving the Kansas economy the core goal of his administration. He has proposed fundamental tax reform to encourage investment and generate wealth while creating new jobs. Consistent with those objectives, he also has proposed structural reforms to the state's largest budget items, school finance,[38] and Medicaid [39] and (3) State Pensions (KPERS), which have unfunded liabilities of $8.3 billion.[40] Brownback sought to follow a "red state model", passing conservative social and economic policies.[41]

Abortion[edit]

Brownback signed three anti-abortion bills in 2011. In April 2011, he signed a bill banning abortion after 21 weeks based on the contested belief that fetuses can feel pain at that point, and a bill requiring that a doctor get a parent's notarized signature before providing an abortion to a patient younger than 17.[42] In May 2011, Brownback approved a bill prohibiting insurance companies from offering abortion coverage as part of general health plans unless the procedure is necessary to save a woman's life. The law also prohibits any health-insurance exchange in Kansas established under the federal Affordable Care Act from offering coverage for abortions other than to save a woman’s life. There was much opposition in Kansas to the bill.[43]

A Kansas budget passed with Brownback's approval in 2011 blocked Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri from receiving family planning funds from the state. The funding amounted to about $330,000 a year.[44] The decision was largely for anti-abortion reasons, although family planning funds cannot be used for abortions. A judge has blocked the budget provision, ordered Kansas to begin funding the organization again, and agreed with Planned Parenthood that it was being unfairly targeted.[45] In response, the state filed an appeal seeking to overturn the judge's decision.[46] Brownback has defended anti-abortion laws in Kansas, including the Planned Parenthood defunding. "You can’t know for sure what all comes out of that afterwards, but it was the will of the Legislature and the people of the state of Kansas,” Brownback said.[47]

The Kansas attorney general's office paid outside lawyers $476,000 to defend the state's abortion laws in 2011.[48]

In May 2012, Brownback signed the Health Care Rights of Conscience Act, which "will allow pharmacists to refuse to provide drugs they believe might cause an abortion."[49]

In April 2013, Brownback signed a sweeping anti-abortion bill that blocked tax breaks for abortion providers, banned sex-selection abortions and declared that life begins at fertilization. The law notes that any rights suggested by the language are limited by U.S. Supreme Court decisions.[8]

Arts[edit]

Brownback tried to eliminate the Kansas Arts Commission by executive order; however, the Kansas state legislature defied Brownback by restoring $689,000 in appropriations.[50] Brownback responded by vetoing government funding for the Kansas Arts Commission in May 2011, making Kansas the first state to de-fund its arts agency.[51] The commission was created in 1966. The decision has been one of his most controversial during his tenure as governor, generating opposition from Kansas arts leaders and enthusiasts around the state. The National Endowment for the Arts informed Kansas that without a funded state arts agency, it would not receive a planned $700,000 federal grant.[52]

Prayer rally[edit]

Brownback was the only other governor to attend Governor Rick Perry's prayer event in August 2011.[53][54] About 22,000 people attended the rally, and Brownback and Perry were the only elected officials to speak.[55] The decision resulted in some controversy and newspaper editorials demonstrating disappointment in his attendance of the rally.[56] [57]

Health care[edit]

In August 2011, Brownback announced he was declining a $31.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to set up an insurance exchange as part of the federal health care reform law.[citation needed] In May 2011, Brownback had directed the state's insurance commissioner to slow the implementation timeline for the exchange development. Upon announcing the refusal of the budgeted grant money for the state, his office stated, "There is much uncertainty surrounding the ability of the federal government to meet its already budgeted future spending obligations. Every state should be preparing for fewer federal resources, not more. To deal with that reality Kansas needs to maintain maximum flexibility. That requires freeing Kansas from the strings attached to the Early Innovator Grant.”[7] The move was unanimously supported by the delegates of the state party central committee at its August 2011 meeting, but a The New York Times editorial criticized Brownback for turning down the grant which could have helped ease the state's own budget: "Instead of letting Kansas design its own model program for an online computer exchange to help people choose among health insurance providers, Mr. Brownback’s rebuff increases the likelihood that the state must design one at its own expense or see federal officials create an exchange, as required under the new law."[58]

Taxes[edit]

In May 2012, Brownback signed into law one of the largest income tax cuts in Kansas' history.[6] The act has received criticism for shifting the tax burden from wealthy Kansans to low- and moderate-income workers,[59] with the top income tax rate dropping by 25%.[60] Under Brownback, Kansas also lowered the sales tax and eliminated a tax on small businesses.[60] The tax cuts may have helped contribute to Moody's downgrading of the state's bond rating in 2014.[61]

2014 gubernatorial election[edit]

In October 2013, Kansas state representative Paul Davis, the Democratic minority leader of the Kansas House of Representatives, announced he would challenge Brownback in the 2014 Kansas gubernatorial election.[62]

On July 2014, Brownback faced a strong rebuke from members of his own party, with more than 100 Kansas Republican officials endorsing his Democratic opponent Davis. These Kansas Republicans said their concern was related to deep cuts in education and other government services as well as the tax cuts that have left the state with a major deficit.[63]

Education[edit]

In April 2014, Brownback signed a school finance bill that would drive millions of dollars to Kansas schools. The bill also raised controversy by eliminating mandatory due process hearings, which are held before experienced teachers could be fired by the district. Furthermore, the signed bill would lower teacher licensing requirements.[64]

Positions[edit]

Economic Issues[edit]

Pro Business: He was rated 100 percent by the US Chamber of Commerce, indicating a pro-business voting record.

Fiscal Policy: He has consistently supported a low tax and spend policy for government. As governor he urged a flattening of the income tax to spur economic growth in Kansas. In December 2005, Brownback advocated using Washington, DC, as a laboratory for a flat tax.[65][66] He voted Yes on a Balanced-budget constitutional amendment. He opposed the Estate Tax.

Trade: He was rated 100 percent by the Cato Institute, indicating a pro-free trade voting record.

[67]

Arts[edit]

Brownback has said he believes private donations should fund arts and culture in the state.[68] In May 2011, Brownback eliminated by executive order and then subsequently vetoed government funding for the Kansas Arts Commission in response to state defiance of his executive order, making Kansas the first state to defund its arts commission.[51] The commission was created in 1966.

Health care[edit]

Brownback opposes a single-payer, government-run health-care system. He supports increased health insurance portability, eliminating insurance rejection due to pre-existing medical conditions, a cap on frivolous malpractice lawsuits, the implementation of an electronic medical records system, an emphasis on preventative care, and tax benefits aimed at making health-care insurance more affordable for the uninsured and targeted to promote universal access.[citation needed] He opposes government-funded elective abortions in accordance with the Hyde Amendment. He has been a strong supporter of legislation to establish a national childhood cancer database and an increase in funding for autism research.[69] Brownback supports negotiating bulk discounts on Medicare drug benefits to reduce prices. In 2007, Senators Brownback and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sponsored an amendment to the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007. The amendment created a prize as an incentive for companies to invest in new drugs and vaccines for neglected tropical diseases. It awards a transferable “Priority Review Voucher” to any company that obtains approval for a treatment for a neglected tropical disease. This provision adds to the market-based incentives available for the development of new medicines for developing world diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and African sleeping sickness. The prize was initially proposed by Duke University faculty Henry Grabowski, Jeffrey Moe, and David Ridley in their 2006 Health Affairs paper: "Developing Drugs for Developing Countries."[70]

Brownback supports a bill that would introduce price transparency to the U.S. health care industry,[71] as well as a bill which would require the disclosure of Medicare payment rate information.[72]

On December 16, 2006, Brownback gave an interview to the Christian Post, stating: "We can get to this goal of eliminating deaths by cancer in ten years."[73]

Immigration[edit]

Brownback has a voting record that has tended to support higher legal immigration levels[74] and strong refugee protection. Brownback was cosponsor of a 2005 bill of Ted Kennedy and John McCain's which would have created a legal path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants already present.[75] On June 26, 2007, Brownback voted in favor of S. 1639, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act.[76][77] Brownback supports increasing numbers of legal immigrants, building a fence on Mexican border, and the reform bill "if enforced." While he initially supported giving guest workers a path to citizenship, Brownback eventually voted "Nay" on June 28, 2007.[78] Brownback has said that he supports immigration reform because the Bible says to welcome the stranger.[79]

Iraq[edit]

Brownback posing with U.S. troops in Iraq.

Brownback supported a political surge coupled with the military surge of 2007 in Iraq and opposed the Democratic Party's strategy of timed withdrawal:

It does mean that there must be bipartisan agreement for our military commitment on Iraq. We cannot fight a war with the support of only one political party. And it does mean that the parties in Iraq — Sunni, Shi’a and Kurds — must get to a political agreement, to a political equilibrium. I think most people agree that a cut and run strategy does not serve our interest at all, nor those of the world, nor those of the region, nor those of the Iraqi people. So I invite my colleagues, all around, particularly on the other side of the aisle, to indicate what level of commitment they can support.[80]

— Senator Sam Brownback, U.S. Senate floor speech, January 16, 2007

In May 2007 Brownback stated, "We have not lost war; we can win by pulling together" He voted Yes on authorizing use of military force against Iraq, voted No on requiring on-budget funding for Iraq, not emergency funding and voted No on redeploying troops out of Iraq by July 2007.[67] He has also condemned anti-Muslim bigotry in name of anti-terrorism.[69]

On June 7, 2007, Brownback voted against the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007 when that bill came up for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which Brownback sits.[81] (The bill was passed out of the committee by a vote of 11 to 8.)[82] The bill aims to restore habeas corpus rights revoked by the Military Commissions Act of 2006.[83]

Darfur[edit]

Brownback visited refugee camps in Sudan in 2004 and returned to write a resolution labeling the Darfur conflict as genocide, and has been active on attempting to increase U.S. efforts to resolve the situation short of military intervention.[84] He is an endorser of the Genocide Intervention Network, which called him a "champion of Darfur" in its Darfur scorecard, primarily for his early advocacy of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act.[85]

Israel and Palestine[edit]

In October 2007, Brownback announced his support for a plan designed by Benny Elon, chairman of Israel's right wing NU - NRP party.[4] Elon's positions include dismantling the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas and rejecting a two-state solution. The plan calls for the complete annexation of the West Bank by Israel, and the deportation of its Arab population to a new Palestinian state in present day Jordan. Elon argues that this would complete the 1948 Palestinian exodus begun in the 1948 war.[citation needed]

Evolution[edit]

Brownback has stated that he is a devout believer in a higher power and rejects macroevolution, or the development over time of new species from older ones.[86] Brownback favors giving teachers the freedom to use intelligent design to critique evolutionary theory as part of the Teach the Controversy approach:

There's intelligence involved in the overall of creation. ...I don't think we're really at the point of teaching this in the classroom. I think what we passed in the U.S. Senate in 2002 the Santorum Amendment is really what we should be doing, and that is that you teach the controversy, you teach what is fact is fact, and what is theory is theory, and you move from that proceedings, rather than from teaching some sort of different thought. And this, I really think that's the area we should concentrate on at the present time, is teaching the controversy.[87]

— Senator Sam Brownback, Larry King Live, CNN, August 23, 2005''

He has supported the Discovery Institute, hub of the intelligent design movement, and has argued extensively on their behalf during Discovery Institute intelligent design campaigns such as the Santorum Amendment, Teach the Controversy, and the denial of tenure to Institute Fellow and design proponent Guillermo Gonzalez.[88][89]

Abortion[edit]

Brownback is pro-life and opposes abortion in all cases except when the life of the pregnant woman is in danger. He has a 100 percent pro-life voting record according to the National Right to Life Committee. Brownback also supports parental notification for minors who seek an abortion and opposes Partial Birth Abortion.[69][90] Brownback was personally anti-abortion though politically pro-choice during the early days of his career.[91] Brownback has more recently stated, "I see it as the lead moral issue of our day, just like slavery was the lead moral issue 150 years ago."[92] On May 3, 2007, when asked his opinion of repealing Roe v. Wade, Brownback said, "It would be a glorious day of human liberty and freedom."[93]

Brownback also stated he "could support a pro-choice nominee" to the presidency, because "this is a big coalition party."[94] Brownback has stated that he supports a human life amendment or federal legislation criminalizing abortion.[citation needed]

LGBT issues[edit]

Brownback has stated that he believes homosexuality to be immoral as a violation of both Catholic doctrine[95] and natural law.[96] He has voted against gay rights, receiving zeros in four of the last five scorecards as a U.S. senator from the Human Rights Campaign.[97][98][99][100][101] He opposes both same-sex marriage and same-sex civil union.[96] He opposes adding sexual orientation and gender identity to federal laws that address hate crime.[96][102] He has declined to state a position on gay adoption,[103][104] although a candidate for chair of the Kansas Republican Party claims he was blackballed by political operatives affiliated with Brownback for not opposing gay adoption.[105] Brownback supported "don't ask, don't tell,"[106] the U.S. government's ban on openly gay and lesbian people in the military. Brownback has associated with leading anti-gay organizations, including the Family Research Council[107][108] and American Family Association.[109][110]

In 2003, Brownback worked with Alliance for Marriage and Traditional Values Coalition to introduce a Senate bill containing the Federal Marriage Amendment, a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that would federally prohibit same-sex marriage in the United States.[111][112][113][114] The bill was a response to Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the Massachusetts state court decision finding that same-sex couples had the right to marry in Massachusetts.[111][112][113] In reaction to the Goodridge decision, Brownback stated that same-sex marriage threatened the health of American families and culture.[115]

In 2006, Brownback blocked the confirmation of federal judicial nominee Janet T. Neff because she had attended a same-sex commitment ceremony.[116][117][118] At first, he agreed to lift the block only if Neff would recuse herself from all cases involving same-sex unions.[116][117][118] Brownback later dropped his opposition.[116][117][118]

In April 2011, Brownback began work on a Kansas government program to promote marriage, in part through grants to faith-based social service organizations.[119][120] Early meetings involved national opponents of same-sex marriage.[119] The Brownback administration says the program will exclude gay and lesbian families.[119] In June 2011, the administration revised contract expectations for social work organizations to promote married mother-father families.[121][122] It explained the change as benefiting children.[121][122]

In January 2012, Brownback did not include Kansas's sodomy law in a list of unenforced and outdated laws that the legislature should repeal.[123][124][125][126] Gay rights advocates had asked his administration to recommend its repeal because the law has been unenforceable since the Supreme Court's Lawrence v. Texas decision in 2003.[123][124][125][126][127]

In February 2012, the Brownback administration supported a religious freedom bill that would have stopped cities, school districts, universities, and executive agencies from having nondiscrimination laws or policies that covered sexual orientation or gender identity.[128][129][130]

In 2013, after oral arguments in United States v. Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court case striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, Brownback publicly reaffirmed his opposition to same-sex marriage.[131]

Stem cell research[edit]

Brownback supports adult stem cell research and cord blood stem cells. Brownback appeared with three children adopted from in vitro fertilization clinics to coincide with a Senate debate over the Cord Blood Stem Cell Act of 2005[132] to show his support for the bill and adult stem cell research. The Religious Freedom Coalition refers to children conceived through the adopted in vitro process as "snowflake children."[133] The term, as proponents explain, is an extension of the idea that the embryos are "frozen and unique," and in that way are similar to snowflakes.[133] Brownback supports the use of cord blood stem cell research for research and treatment. He opposes the use of embryonic stem cells in research or treatments for human health conditions.[67]

Capital punishment[edit]

Brownback said in an interview, "I am not a supporter of a death penalty, other than in cases where we cannot protect the society and have other lives at stake."[134] In a speech on the Senate Judiciary Committee, he questioned the current use of the death penalty as potentially incongruent with the notion of a "culture of life", and suggested it be employed in a more limited fashion.[135] He voted YES on making federal death penalty appeals harder and voted NO on maintaining the right of habeas corpus in death penalty appeals.[67] These two votes occurred before his conversion to Catholicism in 2002 — since his conversion, he has echoed Pope John Paul II's remarks against the death penalty.

Environmental protection[edit]

In 2005, the organization Republicans for Environmental Protection ("REP") gave Brownback a grade of 7 percent for the 107th United States Congress, but in 2006, increased the rating to 26%.[136] Senator Brownback supported an amendment to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, offered by Senator Jeff Bingaman, (D-NM), requiring at least 10 percent of electricity sold by utilities to originate from renewable resources.[136] He has also supported conservation of rare felids & canids. He has voted for increased funding for international conservation of cranes. Brownback has supported oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in the Gulf of Mexico, as a way to reduce dependence on foreign oil. He has promoted the use of renewable energy such as nuclear, wind, solar, and hydroelectric sources to achieve energy independence.[69]

Other issues[edit]

On September 27, 2006, Brownback introduced a bill called the Truth in Video Game Rating Act (S.3935), which would regulate the rating system of computer and video games.

On June 15, 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005 sponsored by Brownback, a former broadcaster himself. The new law stiffens the penalties for each violation of the Act. The Federal Communications Commission will be able to impose fines in the amount of $325,000 for each violation by each station that violates decency standards. The legislation raises the fine by tenfold.[137][138]

Where I think we're really lost is we're segregating science and faith. And they ask and answer different questions. Science asks how, and faith asks why. And I think we'd be so much richer, and in societies in the past in Western civilization they did this a lot more, if you had the interaction of the two, of faith and science.

—Sam Brownback, [134]

On September 3, 1997, Meredith O'Rourke, an employee of Kansas firm Triad Management Services, was deposed by the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs regarding her activities and observations while providing services for the company relative to fund raising and advertising for Brownback. The deposition claims that Triad circumvented existing campaign finance laws by channeling donations through Triad, and also bypassed the campaign law with Triad running 'issue ads' during Brownback's first campaign for the Senate.[139][140]

He has said he does not believe there is an inherent right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution. He has, however, expressed disapproval of George W. Bush's assertions on the legality of the NSA wiretapping program.[141]

Brownback voted to maintain current gun laws: guns sold without trigger locks. He opposes gun control.[67]

Brownback is a lead sponsor of the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005 and frequently speaks out against the mail-order bride industry.[142]

Brownback introduced into the Senate a resolution (Senate Joint Resolution 4) calling for the United States to apologize for past mistreatment of Native Americans.[143][144][145] He worked with Congressman John Lewis to help win placement of the African American Museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C..[citation needed]

Brownback's voting record on civil rights was rated 20 percent by the ACLU. He voted "yes" on ending special funding for minority and women-owned business and "yes" on recommending a Constitutional ban on flag desecration. He opposes quotas in admission to institutions of higher education.[67] He voted "yes" on increasing penalties for drug offenses and voted "yes" on more penalties for gun and drug violations.[67]

Brownback voted against banning chemical weapons.[67] He voted "yes" on reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act and voted "yes" on extending the PATRIOT Act's wiretap provision.[67] In May 2007, Brownback stated that "Iran is the lead sponsor of terrorism around the world." He supports talks and peaceful measures with Iran, but no formal diplomatic relations.[67]

In April 2009, Brownback introduced the Congo Conflict Minerals Act of 2009 to require electronics companies to verify and disclose their sources of conflict minerals, such as cassiterite, wolframite, and tantalum. This legislation died in committee. However, measures to control the sale of conflict minerals were later included in the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which Brownback voted against.

Electoral history[edit]

Kansas's 2nd congressional district: 1994 results[146]
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct Overall Turnout
1994 John Carlin 71,025 34.4% Sam Brownback 135,725 65.6% 206,750
In 1996, Bob Dole resigned from the U.S. Senate to focus on his campaign for U.S. President. Lieutenant Governor Sheila Frahm was appointed to Dole's Senate seat by Governor Bill Graves. Brownback defeated Frahm in the Republican primary and won the general election against Jill Docking to serve out the remainder of Dole's term.
United States Senate special election in Kansas, 1996: Republican Primary Results
Year Incumbent Votes Pct Challenger Votes Pct Challenger Votes Pct Overall Turnout
1996 Sheila Frahm 142,487 41.6% Sam Brownback 187,914 54.8% Christina Campbell-Cline 12,378 3.6% 342,779
United States Senate special election in Kansas, 1996: General Election Results
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct Reform Votes Pct Overall Turnout
1996 Jill Docking 461,344 43.3% Sam Brownback 574,021 53.9% Donald R. Klaassen 29,351 2.8% 1,064,716
U.S. Senate elections in Kansas, (Class III): Results 1998–2004[146]
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct Libertarian Votes Pct Reform Votes Pct Overall Turnout
1998 Paul Feleciano 229,718 31.6% Sam Brownback 474,639 65.3% Tom Oyler 11,545 1.6% Alvin Bauman 11,334 1.6% 727,236
2004 Lee Jones 310,337 27.5% Sam Brownback 780,863 69.2% Steven A. Rosile 21,842 1.9% George Cook 15,980 1.4% 1,129,022
Governor's election in Kansas, 2010  [147]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Sam Brownback - Jeff Colyer 530,760 63.28%
Democratic Tom Holland - Kelly Kultala 270,166 32.21%
Libertarian Andrew Gray - Stacey Davis 22,460 2.68%
Reform Ken Cannon - Dan Faubion 15,397 1.84%
Totals 838,790 100.0%
Republican gain from Democratic

Controversies[edit]

In March 2013, Brownback's Budget Director, Steve Anderson, offered his resignation after failing to identify a $2 billion error on a spreadsheet the governor had been using for several months in a presentation aimed at garnering support for his business-friendly fiscal policies.[148] Brownback had used the spreadsheet to assert he was the first cost-cutting Kansas governor in 40 years, despite spending four hundred thousand dollars more in 2012 than the state had spent in 2010 under Democrat Mark Parkinson.

Before working for the Brownback administration, Anderson worked for Americans For Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group founded by brothers David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch.[149] The Koch brothers have been close political allies of Brownback's for nearly 20 years, and had the governor's approval to promote conservative challengers to Republican moderates already in office during the 2012 election cycle.[150]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Senate
Presidential
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jim Slattery
Member of the House of Representatives
from Kansas's 2nd congressional district

1995–1996
Succeeded by
Jim Ryun
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bob Dole
Republican nominee for Senator from Kansas
(Class 3)

1996, 1998, 2004
Succeeded by
Jerry Moran
Preceded by
Jim Barnett
Republican nominee for Governor of Kansas
2010
Most recent
United States Senate
Preceded by
Sheila Frahm
United States Senator (Class 3) from Kansas
1996–2011
Served alongside: Nancy Landon Kassebaum, Pat Roberts
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Jerry Moran
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Mark Parkinson
Governor of Kansas
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