Brownback will resign to take religious freedom post

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Kansas Governor Sam Brownback speaks at an event for the groundbreaking of the K-State Engineering Hall. (Archive photo | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback resigned Wednesday after the U.S. Senate confirmed him as the presidential administration’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.

In a letter to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Brownback wrote that his resignation will be effective 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 31.

“I have been privileged to serve and represent my fellow citizens for most of my adult life,” Brownback said in the letter he posted on Twitter. “Kansas is a great place to raise a family, get a job, or start a business, and I will always be proud to call it my home.”

Brownback has served as Kansas’s governor since 2011.

The Senate split 49-49 down party lines on Brownback’s nomination for Brownback to serve in the Trump administration, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote.

“I look forward to continuing in public service as the United States Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom,” Brownback wrote. “Wherever my new duties take me, my Kansas values and experience will always travel with me.”

Kansas senator Pat Roberts supported the confirmation, saying that Brownback is ideally suited for the job.

“Sam Brownback has always been called to fight for those of all faiths,” Roberts said.

Many Democrats and LGBTQ rights advocates opposed the nomination of Brownback, who ended anti-discrimination protections for gay state workers in 2015. Lambda Legal Group, known for litigating and advocating for LGBTQ individuals and groups, released a statement condemning Brownback’s nomination.

“He has refused to condemn anti-LGBTQ laws, including those with death penalty sentences. ‘Concerning’ is an understatement,” the group said in a statement Wednesday. “With his confirmation as international ambassador, it is clear Donald Trump and Mike Pence are preparing to export their hateful agenda.”

Brownback was nominated for the religious freedom ambassadorship last summer, and he began assigning governor duties to Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer, but months passed without a confirmation vote from the U.S. Senate. President Trump had to re-nominate Brownback earlier this month after the full Senate declined to vote last year.

“Our state’s been in kind of a leadership vacuum of chaos,” said Jim Ward, the Democratic leader in the Kansas House of Representatives. “It’s really slowed down and pretty much stopped all progress on any kind of policy because you’ve got two different guys acting like the governor.”

Ward is running for governor this year.

Brownback served in the U.S. Senate before becoming governor in January 2011. Brownback aggressively cut taxes throughout his tenure as governor, arguing that they would provide “a shot of adrenaline to the heart” of the state’s economy.

The Republican governor has grown unpopular in the state of Kansas in recent years, with a 57 percent disapproval rating for his overall performance as governor, according to a 2017 report from Kansas Speaks.

Colyer will become Kansas’s next governor following Brownback’s resignation.

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News and Science Writer for the Collegian. Senior in Food Science with a Minor in Mass Communications from Topeka, Kansas. Graphic and Video Design. I cook … a lot.