Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Surprise Guest at Olathe Republican Party Picnic

Several lawmakers failed to make appearances at the Olathe Republican Party picnic, but there was one surprise attendee. (The missing included quite a few Olathe Republican state legislators. What could have kept them away? I wonder.)




*Cough* 

Anyway, there were a few unusual guests at the annual picnic: the media, who apparently is just following Kris Kobach around seeking protesters and/or Kobach gaffes. Neither put in an appearance. 

Another unusual guest? Ken Rahjes. Rahjes represents the 110th district in the Kansas House. He lives in Agra, Kansas, a long, long way from Olathe for those keeping count. Mapquest tells me it's about a 4.5-hour drive.

In 2015, Precinct committee men and women in the 110th district selected Rahjes to replace Travis Couture-Lovelady, famed-hatmaker/legislator-turned-NRA-lobbyist. 

At the time, Rahjes was considered the less-conservative of three candidates. He was elected to retain the seat in 2016, and his voting record is fairly conservative. For some baffling reason, he voted for the initial retroactive tax bill back in February, before reversing course and voting against the eventual tax increase that Brownback vetoed. He also voted against overriding the Governor's veto. (As an aside, his son worked for the Roger Marshall campaign. Ask me about that time the boys from the Marshall campaign beat me with their snobbery at a Yoder campaign event last fall. But that's all beside the point of this writing.)

So... what was a western Kansas pol doing at an Olathe Republican Party event? Clearly, planning to run for something. What? I don't know. I asked. He didn't answer. I'll just say, I'd play poker with that guy any day of the week.





Thursday, June 22, 2017

Olathe Republican Party Picnic This Weekend

Prepare for so many boat shoes. Sigh.

The Olathe Republican Party Picnic kicks off this weekend. Hundreds of Republicans will descend on Cedar Lake, and far too many of them will be wearing boat shoes.

Because half of the world has already declared an intent to seek the Republican Party nomination for Governor in 2018, it should be an interesting affair. Candidates Wink Hartman and Kris Kobach will likely put in appearances. I highly doubt Jim Barnett and Ed O'Malley--the guys campaigning kind of like Democrats in the race attend. Olathe is an extremely conservative town and the Olathe Republican Party reflects that bent. Ed and Jim would be virtual aliens among the crowd. It will be fascinating to see which legislators show up. I anticipate a chilly reception for those who voted for that monstrous tax increase (complete with new spending and a busted budget by year 3!!)

At least one legislator, Keith Esau, is expected to announce his candidacy for Secretary of State. I'm told he won't be the only one making surprise announcements. (If I knew what the other announcements would be, I'd tell you.)

The Olathe Republican Party was one of the first things I blogged about when I started this little project. Here's what I wrote back in 2012:

Almost everyone there will be involved in a campaign for one or more candidates and everyone will be throwing around titles. Introductions will include full resumes. "Hi, I'm the (volunteer coordinator/communications director/campaign manager/candidate) for candidate X.I graduated cumma sum laude from University Y. I am the former city council member from Z and served on the Governor's Committee for a Better America. Stop by my booth/wear my sticker/take a yard sign."
Not much has changed, though the location is different. Because it's not an election year, some elected officials are skipping out. I hear Congressman Yoder is taking a pass as is Sen. Jerry Moran. (I'm sure Sen. Roberts has attended in the past--probably back when he was in his 40s, so... awhile ago. I don't anticipate seeing him tomorrow.)

As usual, most of the people who attend will be weirdos. Sorry friends. I'm including myself in that mix. Regular voters-- people who don't spend good parts of every day thinking about political stuff--are unlikely to be there. And since Yoder and Moran are skipping the event, we can hope that the protesting hippies in genital hats will skip, too.




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Justice Department Vetting Kansans for Trump Appointments

Most of the buzz in Kansas is about a potential Gov. Brownback appointment. However, Brownback isn't the only Kansan being vetted for a potential presidential appointment. (BTW, sources tell me the background investigation into the Governor for potential appointment as the Ambassador for Religious Freedom is complete.)

Meanwhile, investigators are parsing through the background of Stephen McAllister, a University of Kansas law dean. Others discussed and scrapped for the position of U.S. Attorney (for this district) include former state Sens. Jeff King and Terry Bruce as well as an assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Mattivi.

On paper, McAllister appears to have most of the credentials necessary to serve in the role. He has Republican street cred--having served as a clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice. They are Presidential political appointees, and many are appointed based on the recommendation of U.S. Senators (and other politicians) from those states.  U.S. Attorneys are part of the U.S. Justice Department and are responsible for prosecuting federal cases--many of them criminal. McAllister's criminal law experience seems light.

However, that's not the biggest challenge for the law professor-possibly turned-political climber. McAllister has a bit of a gray ethics history, if a newsletter KU law students once published is to be believed.

The newsletter theorized that McAllister hired his girlfriend--now wife--for a part time job at the university and gave her full time pay. This was years ago, and McAllister swung back hard at the allegations of public corruption.

He told the Lawrence Journal-World in 2004 that the students spread "extraordinary lies" about him and his wife. 

"The maturity level this sort of behavior represents is more typical of a high school, or perhaps even a junior high school, than a graduate level professional school that aspires to be one of the top 25 law schools," he told the paper.

Oddly, the Journal-World didn't actually list the students' accusations or quote from the newsletter. 

Having people above reproach serving as U.S. Attorneys in the Justice Department has never been more important. There are questions about how Loretta Lynch ran the department, and obviously you can't throw an elbow without hearing about former FBI Director James Comey. (The FBI is the investigative arm of the Justice Department.)

The good news is if there is indeed questionable conduct in McAllister's past, the vetting process, which involves the FBI, should shake out any potential gray areas. Time will tell.