Posted 08/11/2008
Major GOP leaders denounce attack by new liberal group
by Editor
Click to view a larger picture

The Kansas Republican Party Emailed a statement Friday, August 8, denouncing an attack made by a relatively new liberal Republican group and directed toward a major faith-based political group and two former elected Republicans. 

A few major figures in the state Republican party co-signed the letter, issued in response to a statement by a secular Republican group called The Kansas Traditional Republican Majority, but many more Republicans with ties to the controversial group are absent from the state party's letter about KTRM's actions.  Also silent are major names in the Johnson County business and government-run educational community who have provided financial support to KTRM.

The Kansas Republican Assembly reports:

  • Shortly after the email was sent, another email was sent saying that the press release should not have been sent because it was not ready for publication.

The full text of the first statement follows:

  • August 8, 2008

    Fellow Republicans, 

    We have just come through a grueling primary season, and we are now gearing up to march together toward victory in November.  As is often the case, there were a number of hard-fought primaries around the state in which Republicans said some negative things about each other.

    However, there was one attack that was so out-of-line and so indefensible that it must be roundly and publicly condemned by all Republicans in Kansas.

    On August 1, the organization “Kansas Traditional Republican Majority,” (KTRM) issued a press release entitled “Kline and Ryun Unmasked:  Linked to Klu Klux Klan.”  In that release, the KTRM made an absurd attempt to link these two good men to the KKK through a series of implausible connections.

    It is a sad day when any organization falsely accuses a Republican candidate of being linked to the KKK.  It is inexcusable when an organization that claims to be associated with the Republican Party does so.  We expect such despicable smear tactics from Democrats, but not from Republicans.

    It is simply unacceptable for any organization that claims to represent the Republican Party to slander fellow Republicans in this way. Falsely accusing someone of being linked to the racism of the KKK is a personal smear that has no place in Republican politics.

    This condemnation of KTRM’s press release has nothing to do with its ideological leanings.  If a conservative organization stooped to such a disgraceful level, it too would be condemned.  Attacks like these have no ideology – just right and wrong.  What KTRM did, just days before Republicans across the state voted in the primary election, was just plain wrong.  Fortunately, the media realized how baseless this press release was and ignored it.

    We hope that KTRM will recognize its mistake and apologize to Jim Ryun and Phill Kline.  It is time for all Republicans to reconcile with one another and move forward to victory in November. 

    Kris Kobach

    Chairman Kansas Republican Party

    Pat Roberts

    US Senator

    Sam Brownback

    US Senator

    Todd Tiahrt

    US Representative

    Jerry Moran

    US Representative

    Lynn Jenkins

    State Treasurer and Republican Candidate for Congress (2nd District) 

The KRA provides a PDF copy of the letter at its Web site.

At this time, it is not known why the party issued a second statement, saying that the original statement should not have been sent.

KTRM based its comments toward Kline and Ryun upon the premise that Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, is a racist.  The Family Research Council has a membership of about a half million people, according to the Democrat-leaning group People for the American Way.  Influential in FRC's founding was Dr. James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family.

A PDF copy of the KTRM letter can be found here.

KTRM's membership is small in number, but the group has received support from high-profile individuals, many in Johnson County.  Supporters of the group include:

  • Jim Denning, brother of Johnson County Sheriff Frank Denning;
  • Bob Regnier, president of Blue Valley Bank.  Regnier, a liberal, is the former board president of Blue Valley School District and the current president of the Johnson County Community College Foundation;  Regnier's wife is a supporter of the Mainstream Coalition, a group similar to the ACLU;
  • The National Educational Association;
  • The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce;
  • Bob Vancrum, a lobbyist for the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, lobbyist for the Blue Valley School District, and member of the JCCC Foundation board of directors;
  • Leawood State Representative Pat Colloton, a liberal Republican;
  • Carl Gerlach, Overland Park mayor and JCCC Foundation board member;
  • Ed Eilert, Johnson County Commissioner, former Overland Park mayor, and JCCC Foundation board member;
  • Barbara Allen, former Kansas senator and JCCC Foundation executive board member;
  • Steve Klika, vice president of the Blue Valley School Board;
  • Jan Meyers, former 3rd district Republican congresswoman and JCCC Foundation board member.
  • Kansas Senate President Steve Morris;
  • Kansas Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt;
  • Kansas Senate Vice President John Vratil, also a JCCC Foundation board member.

We're not aware of any public comments from:

  • Former US Senator Bob Dole, who is featured on KTRM's Web site;
  • Former US Senator Nancy Kassebaum-Baker, also featured by KTRM;
  • Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh, who shares many of the same political supporters as KTRM, and who is widely thought to be intending to run for governor in 2010.