A Kansas lobbyist with ties to Gov. Sam Brownback (R) used his Twitter account to accuse a Democratic candidate for the state Senate of an incestuous relationship with his teenage stepdaughter.
Jim Gardner, a Topeka lobbyist who worked on Brownback's staff in Congress, tweeted Monday night, "Teenage Lover!" after finding a Democratic Senate candidate, Keith Humphrey of Derby, following his 17-year-old stepdaughter on Twitter, the Topeka Capitol-Journal wrote on its website Tuesday. The news comes amid a heated battle for control of the Kansas Senate pitting conservative Republicans aligned with Brownback against a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats who control the Senate -- the last part of Kansas state government not controlled by the state conservative Republican faction.
Gardner's "Teenage Lover!" tweet has since been removed.
"I served my country with distinction in the U.S. Navy," Humphrey told the Topeka Capitol-Journal. "I believe in freedom of speech. But actively stalking my 17-year old daughter on Twitter and making crude tweets of a derogatory, adult nature is unacceptable."
Gardner told the newspaper he posted an apology on Twitter to Humphrey and his family. He offered no motive for the reference to the teenager.
Gardner is a lobbyist with Hickam Public Affairs in Topeka. On his firm biography, he lists having worked as an aide in Brownback's congressional office, along with working in former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole's (R) office in the 1990s. Gardner also note that he worked for former Gov. Bill Graves (R) in the state Department of Administration. The firm was started by David Kensinger, who was Brownback's gubernatorial chief of staff until recently. Kensinger now heads Brownback's political arm and works with Republican Mike Pence's campaign for Indiana governor.
The bitter war between moderate and conservative Republicans has dominated Kansas politics. Conservative Republicans have launched primary challenges to oust moderates in an attempt to win control of the Senate, which has blocked parts of Brownback's agenda. The war Kansas politics into chaos.
The new lines include sending 46 House members -- a third of the chamber -- into competitive incumbent-on-incumbent primaries, creates 25 House districts with no incumbents and gave many legislative incumbents districts with mostly new territory. In their opinion, the judges wrote that they were "pressing the reset button" on state politics and chastised the Republican-controlled legislature for failing to adopt new lines on their own.
The Republican war has also included the Senate blocking House-written legislation to reduce abortions in the state, rewrite the state's education aid formula and overhaul unemployment programs. The two factions also came to an impasse over Brownback's tax code overhaul until the governor convinced senators to pass his plan -- which eliminates most corporate taxes -- in order to continue discussion. Brownback later signed his plan into law.