Leading Kansas Democrats lashed out at Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday for his recent pick of a person they say is unqualified to hold a government post based on his social media comments that run the gamut from criticizing women to weighing in on racism and fascism.
But the man, who the Democrats said should be removed from the position, stood by the tweets in an interview with The Star.
Brownback announced this week that he had picked John Altevogt of Edwardsville for the Kansas Selective Service System, which deals with potential military drafts.
Altevogt’s Twitter account says he has spent “over two decades in the Kansas conservative movement.”
During a brief phone interview Friday afternoon, Altevogt confirmed the authenticity of the Twitter account and said he stands by the tweets.
The account has recently referred to opponents of the state’s campus carry gun law as “anti-freedom fascists” and also tweeted about U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, the Virginia Democrat who grew up in Overland Park and was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the presidential election.
“I hear you’ve been advocating violence,” the tweet says. “Careful what you wish for.”
Another social media post refers to the Johnson County Democratic Women group as “pagan, baby-killing fascists.”
“I’m not going to be silenced,” Altevogt said in the phone interview with The Star. “I’m not going to be shut up. So, you know, I don’t care what they think.”
During a news conference Friday, Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley and House Minority Leader Jim Ward presented a letter criticizing Brownback’s decision to appoint Altevogt.
“Mr. Altevogt uses social media platforms, among other means, to openly and proudly display hatred, racism and violence towards anyone who disagrees with his views,” the Democrats said in a joint statement.
Melika Willoughby, Brownback’s spokeswoman, released a statement late Friday afternoon that did not say whether or not Brownback planned to let Altevogt keep his appointment.
“The Governor’s Office appoints over 600 people annually, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents from all parts of the state and all walks of life,” she said in an email. “While Representative Ward and Senator Hensley are choosing to bicker over the tweets of this Edwardsville Planning Commissioner, their legislative to-do list of balancing the state budget and writing a school finance system remains unfinished.”