Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Democratic leader says Brownback improperly packing Kansas Board of Regents with too many Republicans

July 1, 2013


— Gov. Sam Brownback's appointments to the Kansas Board of Regents were approved today, but not before a Democratic leader accused the governor of improperly packing the board with too many Republicans.

"I don't understand what it is, that this governor doesn't think he has to play by the rules," said Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley, of Topeka.

But Republicans on the Senate Confirmation Oversight Committee accused Hensley of taking a partisan shot.

"Seems we are entering election season a little early," said state Sen. Pat Apple, R-Louisburg.

The dispute was over Brownback's selection of Shane Bangerter, a Dodge City workers' compensation attorney, to the regents.

Under state law, the nine-member board can have no more than five members of one party. Hensley said there already are five Republicans on the board.

Bangerter, a longtime Republican Party activist, changed his party affiliation from the GOP to unaffiliated.

"We have had an intentional circumvention of the law," Hensley said.

When Hensley asked Bangerter when he changed to unaffiliated, Bangerter said he thought it was nine or 10 months ago, but according to the Ford County clerk, it was in February.

Bangerter said he was active in the Republican Party up until five years ago, but Hensley produced documents that showed Bangerter served in various GOP positions as late as 2010.

Hensley said Bangerter "has an adult lifetime of service and leadership in the Republican Party." He called Bangerter's nomination a "sham process," adding that "someone in the governor's office should be held responsible."

But Bangerter said he no longer considers himself a Republican. "Maybe being a plaintiff's lawyer tends to make you a little more moderate," he said.

He said no one from the governor's office asked him to change his party affiliation. "Independent more accurately describes where I am right now," he said.

State Sen. Jeff King, R-Independence, said he was embarrassed by Hensley's criticisms. King read aloud a portion of a newspaper article from 2006 when Mark Parkinson, the former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, changed his party affiliation to Democrat to run for lieutenant governor with then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat.

The committee approved Bangerter to serve on the regents, with Hensley voting against him.

The committee also approved to the regents Helen Van Etten, a Republican national committeewoman and audiologist with the Topeka school district, and Ann Murguia, who is a commissioner for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan.

Murguia recently ran an unsuccessful bid for mayor. In the race, Murguia was assisted by allies of Brownback's.

The three come onto the board after the Legislature cut $44 million in higher education over two years. Brownback publicly criticized the cuts, but he signed them into law.

During the committee meeting today, Van Etten said higher education funding must be balanced with other state needs and that economic growth will happen "when Kansans are allowed to keep more of their own money."

She also said that higher education must adapt to the marketplace and produce more graduates with technical skills and expertise.

Bangerter, Van Etten and Murguia are replacing Christine Downey-Schmidt, a former state senator from Inman, Janie Perkins, a school district administrator and former mayor of Garden City, and Dan Lykins, a Topeka attorney.

The board oversees the six state universities, 19 community colleges and six technical colleges.


verity 9 months, 3 weeks ago

The Winfield Daily Courier calls Brownback a monster in an editorial posted today.


Greg Cooper 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Does anyone remember "The Mouse That Roared"? It seems Kochback is planning the same strategy: create a nation-state right here in Kansas by taking advantage of the electorate who are too simplistic to actually investigate issues, who vote Republican because they are fed information that just isn't true, and get them so riled up they vote to secede. Thereafter, Kansas declares war on the United States, loses badly, and gets tons and tons of Federal funds for "reconstruction" under the patient tutelage of Kochback.

Idiotic? Probably. But what else can explain the FACTS that the governor ignores/breaks laws, spews misinformation/lies, runs the state as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Koch consortium, regards "religion" as the sole driver of legislation, drives spikes into the hearts of any and all education so that the people will not have the training to distinguish between his lies and the truth, and fosters legislation making it less and less possible for working-class people (yes, unions) to make meaningful, free contributions to the candidates of their choice?

I hate that my native state has become the laughingstock of the nation. I detest the fact that over two million people are ruled by several billion dollars and the few people over whom those dollars are masters. I can not stand the lying.


oldexbeat 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Sam Brownback's god tells him to lie. (And his owners, the Koch Brothers LLC ALEC Ltm do too.) So he lies. Like Bangerter, OK to lie when you've got a 600 foot tall god on your side.


Kate Rogge 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Of course Brownback's taking over the state's Board of Regents, and the state judiciary for that matter. What a surprise, huh? This isn't state government by the people. It's state government for corporate donors' profits and lots of red meat social 'issues' to keep the evangelicals on board. Once there's no place to appeal any foul decision, he'll finish off public schools and sell off the state's agencies and assets until we've been thoroughly Bained. God forbid there should be any unrealized profit left in Kansas.


Lane Signal 9 months, 3 weeks ago

No, this should not be a surprise at all. Brownie has shown over and over that he thinks he is above the law. From pushing laws that are obviously unconstitutional at the State level or the Federal level (Abortion, Immigration, Education Funding, etc.) to meeting with Republican congressional groups illegally behind closed doors to closing offices after congress funds them against his will (Arts Commission), he has proven he does not think he has to operate within our laws. This is all part of the same hubris that drives this administration. Brownie and congress think the rich are entitled to all the money and laws don't apply to them. Hard work and obedience to legal authority is for the poor. Brownie's got his head so far up his rear, he thinks he's wearing a crown.


gcccstudent 9 months, 3 weeks ago

A lot of misleading info in this article. BOR does NOT govern nor anything else except approve curriculum for community colleges. I was informed of this today by the BOR. We have had serious computer issues at Garden City Community College for 18 months. Complaints to the local Board of Trustees have been ignored. I called the BOR today and was informed "tough"! we only deal with the 6 state universities. Do we really need a special board to oversee 6 universities???


verity 9 months, 3 weeks ago

So, at the risk of being redundant---the only way we can stop this insanity is to run somebody against this fake christian ego-maniac who is trying to destroy us in the name of God.

Is somebody qualified going to step up?


snitty 9 months, 3 weeks ago

This is very scary for the future of higher education in Kansas.


Tracy Rogers 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I wanna be governor so I can ignore every law on the books too.


yourworstnightmare 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Not surprising.

Brownback and the ideologue legislature have proven very good at one thing: undermining secular and government institutions so that they can consolidate power and install their own institutions (religious).

The ultimate goal of these right wing christian anarchists is to use every means to consolidate power and to destroy anything that can't be "rendered unto Brownback and thus to god".

Lest my ideas seem overwrought, their demonstrable proof is in the very behavior of Brownback and the right wing christians in the legislature over these past two years.


hedshrinker 9 months, 3 weeks ago

huh, news flash; I didn't know Sen. Jeff King was even capable of embarrassment.


verity 9 months, 3 weeks ago

One would think that I would quit being surprised at the underhanded power plays made by our current governor, but he continues to outdo himself.

The interesting thing, in a very morbid way, is that this breed think they have to cheat, lie, suppress legal voting, gerrymander, etc. to stay in power. Obviously, they don't think they can compete on a level playing field.

We are giving away our power. We can take it back and we must.


konzahawk 9 months, 3 weeks ago

These appointments do not bode well for KU. Only one of the three appointees is a KU grad. Bangerter went to ORU undergrad and KU Law. He is a personal injury attorney and probably a wacko Christian, considering where he attended undergrad. Van Etten graduated from Wayne State and Florida. Being the State Republican Chairwomen, she will do nothing to upset the Koch Brothers. Finally, we have Brandau-Murguia. She did not attend a public university. Her degrees are from Ottawa and Baker.

So fellow Kansans, the Fuhrer has appointed a Christain wacko/ambulance chaser, a Koch Brothers lapdog and a person who has never attended a public school in her life to guide our public universities.


kcchef 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Workers unite FREE BROWNBACKENSTAN! where there is no rule of law only the dictated of a mad man.


oldexbeat 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Lawyer Bangerter, in addition to fighting again workers for the meat companies -- check out his law firm info -- hosted Brownback when he started his run for governor and before that when he ran for senate. This is dishonest BS. Bangerter, graduate of the 600 foot tall Jesus Oral Robert University, is a tea party lover and a rightwing nut. They are liars.

He lead the white flight from Dodge City -- to a ugly windblown snake filled suburb miles north of the city -- but funny thing. Immigrants followed him out.

His law firm anti-worker profile reads:

"His cases have made new law in Kansas regarding such work issues as determining accident dates; issues regarding employee termination for cause and whether a work disability should be granted; consideration of overtime when determining qualification for work disabilities; the applicability of the agricultural pursuit exemption, and the impact of a person’s legal status on work benefits."


Richard Heckler 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Right Wing Brownback is not a republican and he does not select republicans = his preferences are right wing sheep.


TalkSense 9 months, 3 weeks ago

It would nice, if possible, to see the full statements of the three nominees before the committee. Out of context, Van Etten's comment that "higher education funding must be balanced with other state needs" is pragmatic. But it doesn't offer much hope she will fight to restore budget cuts imposed on the Regents institutions in 2013 and past years. Her assertion "that economic growth will happen `when Kansans are allowed to keep more of their own money'" also suggests she lacks an independent perspective on tough public policy choices in our state. Of course "higher education must adapt to the marketplace" and, when you look at the entire Regents system - universities with varying priorities and profiles, a good mix of technical colleges and community colleges - it is doing just that. Producing "more graduates with technical skills and expertise" is a laudable goal when you look at all Regents institutions as a whole. K-State and KU educate engineers, while technical colleges train welders. We need both. But K-State and KU also produce scholars, and it would be nice to hear a Regent or legislator or anyone lift up the value of THAT particular set of "technical skills and expertise." Again, it's hard to tell what she and the other nominees think about the whole of higher education based on a couple of quotes.


Hooligan_016 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I guess my question is more about what are their qualifications to serve on the Board of Regents?

Also, this talking point, "She also said that higher education must adapt to the marketplace and produce more graduates with technical skills and expertise" is getting awfully tiresome. There aren't enough jobs for everyone to be an engineer or plumber. Moreover, engineering jobs keep getting outsourced by the large corporations.


toe 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Seems the universities support of a single party is going to bring long time troubles.


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