Gov. Sam Brownback is preparing to hold a reunion for people from his different political lives, but the Kansas Republican has denied the event is a farewell gathering.
Brownback’s office confirmed the party but declined to release details, calling it a private event for the governor.
Sources told The Star in March that Brownback was in talks with President Donald Trump’s administration about taking an ambassadorship position.
There has been little insight since then about the governor’s future moves, and Brownback has refused to comment about leaving Kansas to take a job in the Trump administration.
During a brief interview earlier this week, Brownback said the party was not a farewell, but instead a chance to thank people.
“Yeah, we’ve got like 90 people coming in,” he said. “I didn’t know I had that many people that had worked for me.”
He said some of the guests were “close friends” who didn’t work for him but were people he had worked with during his time in office.
“I’m getting close to looking back,” Brownback said. “I’m what, 20 months til I finish up my term. So I’m looking back on 30 years and going ‘Wow, that’s been a lot of good people.’ ”
Brownback represented Kansas in the U.S. House and Senate before being elected governor in 2010. He also launched a failed campaign for the presidency during the 2008 election cycle.
Melika Willoughby, the governor’s spokeswoman, dismissed the idea that the event could be a final toast to the governor if he chooses to leave office before his term is set to expire in early 2019.
“Numerous talented and dedicated staff have worked for Governor Brownback as he’s served Kansans as Secretary of Agriculture, Congressman, Senator, and Governor,” Willoughby said in an email. “Over the years they’ve gathered as friends and this gathering follows in that tradition.”
A reporter from The Star asked to attend the event, but was told no and informed that it is a private event.
Clay Barker, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, had heard about the event but said he was not invited.
“What I heard was he’s inviting all his campaign alumni from his congressional, senate, presidential, governor races, people that were actually on the campaign,” Barker said.
Brownback said the event will be held this coming weekend, but he did not elaborate further.
When one reporter asked whether he planned to finish out his term, Brownback said, “We’ll see.”