Sam Brownback’s campaign team now willing to attack major conservative news organizations
Sam Brownback cannot be taken seriously while ex-banker Lynn Mitchelson remains a campaign co-chair.
Some questions for future Kansas Governor Sam Brownback:
- Why did you choose a provably corrupt public official to be a campaign co-chair?
- Why is part of your campaign team giving a no-bid legal contract to the Democratic Party Chairman’s law firm, at the largest Kansas college, and when the college’s lawyer has clear ethical problems?
- Are you trying to make Sarah Palin’s PAC look like a well-run organization?
- Should we assume that you have given up hopes of becoming a future US President?
- Is this how you plan on running the State of Kansas — through reckless acts of incompetence, corruption, and cover-ups, then followed by failed attempts to intimidate your critics (and even top news agencies)? That’s what your choice of campaign co-chairs tells us.
- Do you realize that for every one liberal “Republican” to whom your campaign is reaching out, you are losing — perhaps permanently — the support of two or three conservative voters?
- Really, Senator? Really?
RedState readers, I can explain to you the national banking crisis, in three words: Meet Lynn Mitchelson.
For 15 years, the ex-banker Lynn Mitchelson has been one of seven at-large elected trustees at Johnson County Community College. In large part because he is now unelectable, Mitchelson will permanently retire from public office in 2011.
Mitchelson once had a reputation in Kansas City as someone who could “fix banks.” Troubled banks would hire him as a temporary CEO, and, in theory, he would bring them back to health. But now that his record in elected office is widely known, I’ll be surprised if he is ever again hired by a bank. Why? Because he is directly responsible for much of lawlessness, failed cover-ups, and retaliation that has become commonplace at JCCC. The only thing more embarrassing than the corruption in which Mitchelson has participated, is that he has been so unsuccessful at carrying it out. I did not properly understand the phrase “the cover-up is worse than the crime,” until I had witnessed first-hand Mitchelson at work. Time and time again, Mitchelson’s actions have brought national embarrassment to this college, the largest college in Kansas.
I had not planned on writing about Mitchelson’s work, but today I’ve learned that JCCC leaders have made malicious, baseless legal threats directly to the top conservative news organization RedCounty.com, where I have written in detail about JCCC’s culture of corruption.
Inexplicably, the once-thought-to-be-conservative Sam Brownback months ago made Mitchelson a key part of Brownback’s 2010 campaign for governor, even though Mitchelson’s public record was already well-known. Brownback campaign manager David Kensinger – who apparently is under the illusion that Brownback can literally do whatever he wants, and that Brownback then will automatically receive the enthusiastic support of conservatives — doesn’t want to talk about it.
This most recent legal threat AGAIN raises the question: is this an indication of how Brownback will operate as Kansas’ next governor? Should we plan on Brownback appointing unethical liberals to high levels of state government? Does Sam Brownback consider Lynn Mitchelson to be a “model public servant?”
To highlight some of Mitchelson’s best work:
- In the last six months, at the request of the faculty union and during the worst recession in decades, Mitchelson voted to add one new faculty-approved “department chair” for each of the college’s 80 departments. There is no legitimate purpose for new jobs, other than faculty members being able to have greater protection of one another. These 80 new administrative positions will cost the taxpayers $500,000 a year, and this was enacted by now-President Terry Calaway without the prior input of the elected board and without public discussion.
- In 2008, a liberal professor approached me because he had been reprimanded by a dean for stating his opinion that Muslim nations are known to have poor human rights records. This was a clear First Amendment violation, and the professor’s own union — the Kansas NEA — refused to defend him. I intervened, and the letter of reprimand was almost immediately removed from the professor’s file. President Terry Calaway was frustrated that I had acted alone. Hilariously, Mitchelson attempted to scold me for acting without the “authority” of the majority of the board : “Imagine how difficult it would be for a bank CEO to do his job, if just one of the bank’s board members acted alone.” My reply: Lynn, this isn’t one of your banks. The dean was never punished, and President Calaway later even promoted the dean.
- After violating the Kansas Open Meetings Act in 2009, Mitchelson engaged in what is surely one of the most ill-advised cover-ups in American history. I had shared a budget list with a Kansas City Star reporter, after the list had been illegally shared during a closed meeting. Call me naive, but in an attempt to work with my liberal colleagues, I decided not to publicly embarrass them by making the legal violation known (The Star reporter knew of the violation, but it wasn’t reported). Mitchelson and President Calaway were furious that I didn’t first ask their permission, so — get this — they decided to pick a fight with not only me but also The Star (the largest paper in town), and over the issue of open government (an issue The Star rightly defends). Calaway sent an Email to the 2,000 college employees, criticizing me (his boss) and the reporter. And at the next televised board meeting, Mitchelson pointed at the reporter (who was in the audience) and criticized the reporter for what Mitchelson, in his warped opinion, considered to be unprofessional behavior; also at that televised meeting, Calaway attempted to defend himself by effectively acknowledging that he had lied to The Star’s managing news editor during a phone call, thus “reassuring” the editor. Later, in one of the loudest rebukes ever of a single group of Kansas public officials, The Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, The Kansas City Star, and the local ABC affiliate’s CEO all agreed that JCCC leaders broke the law.
- Mitchelson is wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars by giving a fraudulent, no-bid contract to one of his political allies. One of the partners in the attempted cover-up of the open meetings violation was college attorney Mark Ferguson. Ferguson is a no-bid contract recipient of JCCC’s lucrative legal contract. President Calaway had promised to perform a competitive bid, but Calaway broke that promise (I will therefore unapologetically consider this spending to be “fraud”). The attorney Ferguson is also a law partner of Democratic Party Chaiman Larry Gates. In 2009, Mark Ferguson lied to to the public with regard to performing a “complete” review (he intentionally did not discuss the situation with me before he unilaterally “cleared” Mitchelson of wrong-doing). Ferguson lied to his own client through a retaliatory letter to me in which he falsely stated that I had engaged in “defamation” towards JCCC (what serious college president instructs the college lawyer to send a “cease and desist letter” to an elected official?). Also, Ferguson participated in the attempted defamation of his own client (me) by approving of President Calaway’s mis-use of college communications, as I asked to set the record straight to the 2,000 employees.
- Mitchelson violated the board code of conduct by leading the Human Resources committee as it secretly approved domestic partnership health benefits for college employees. JCCC is now the only element of Kansas government to provide health benefits to unmarried employees. This was done without the knowledge of the full elected board, or with any public input.
- Prior to being elected, Mitchelson had been the in-name chair of the JCCC Foundation, a non-profit corporation. There’s not much of a public purpose to the foundation: it receives a half million dollars a year in tax dollars and benefits, and then it “raises” a half million dollars in scholarships. The main winners: the reputations of the “generous” liberals who are on the board. Separately, banking friends of the foundation board also benefit by being able to invest the money. Until then-President Charles Carlsen resigned, Carlsen had been given far too much authority in choosing both the membership of the JCCC Foundation, and in choosing the newest members of the elected JCCC Board, upon a “sudden retirement” of an elected trustee; for years, the foundation was considered a sort of a training ground for future trustees, and Mitchelson was first appointed to complete an unexpired term, prior to him being re-elected. Mitchelson very much owes much of his public record to former President Carlsen. By the mid-2000s, the membership of the JCCC Foundation closely mirrored an ACLU-type group called the “Mainstream Coalition,” of which Carlsen was also a member.
- Mitchelson remains a board member of the JCCC Foundation, whose chosen chairman is now another area leftist named Bob Regnier, whose Bank of Blue Valley was Kansas City’s first TARP recipient. Incredibly, taxpayers are bailing out both Regnier’s bank and non-profit. Regnier is a key supporter of the “Mainstream Coalition,” and he funded a separate group called the “Kansas Traditional Republican Majority” which in 2008 called labeled as “racists” Congressman Jim Ryun and Family Research Council leader Tony Perkins.
- The JCCC Foundation board includes other provably-corrupt public officials, such as former Trustee Shirley Brown-VanArsdale and former State Senator Dick Bond.
- For years, during the tenure of former President Charles Carlsen, the college was not run by elected trustees, but instead by Charles Carlsen, who went virtually unchallenged in anything he wanted. Mitchelson joined the rest of the elected board in lacking the desire or courage to question Carlsen’s actions. The result: in 2006, Carlsen suddenly resigned amid accusations of sexual harrassment by four female employees. Shortly before Carlsen resigned, while Mitchelson was Vice-Chair of the Board, Carlsen sent two people (a VP and the college attorney) on a retaliatory mission to attempt to intimidate the Hispanic student who, as the student paper editor, was responsible for uncovering Carlsen’s alleged behavior; if the retaliation had been successful, it would have never been known that not just one — but rather four — women were making allegations. Mitchelson refuses to answer the question of whether he had approved of this intimidation, ahead of time — because of his silence and combined with his future retaliatory behavior, I will I assume that Mitchelson did know and approve.
- After Carlsen’s resignation, the elected board spent $600,000 on what is now known to be a disingenuous attempt to investigate the sexual harassment claims and reassure the public about the college’s learning environment.
- The main building at JCCC is still named “The Carlsen Center,” which Carlsen named after himself in the late 1990s.
Connect with Benjamin Hodge at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, The Kansas Progress, and LibertyLinked. Hodge is President of the State and Local Reform Group of Kansas. He served as one of seven at-large trustees at Johnson County Community College from 2005-’09, a member of the Kansas House from 2007-’08, a delegate to the Kansas Republican Party from 2009-’10, and was founder of the Overland Park Republican Party in 2011. His public policy record is recognized by Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, the NRA, Kansans for Life, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).