A former Sedgwick County district attorney blasted an ad by Gov. Sam Brownback that accuses Democrat Paul Davis of being soft on violent crime.
The ad highlights the prosecution of Reginald and Jonathan Carr, whose death sentences for a quadruple murder were set aside by the Kansas Supreme Court.
Brownback’s ad uses the December 2000 murders in Wichita to argue that Davis supports appointing liberal judges who would go easy on criminals.
But Nola Foulston, a Democrat who prosecuted the Carr brothers, issued a statement Wednesday saying the Republican governor is using the case to pander to voters.
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While Foulston said she was disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision, she said using the case for political gain is “reprehensible.”
“This case has devastated our community for almost 14 years,” Foulston said. “It is beyond disgraceful that Sam Brownback would exploit this tragedy and make the victims’ families relive that horrific crime every time they turn on their television just for the sake of getting re-elected.”
The Brownback campaign said it appreciates Foulston’s work prosecuting the Carr brothers, but it reiterated that Davis will appoint liberal judges to the courts.
“Liberals like Paul Davis and (former governor) Kathleen Sebelius will appoint liberal judges who will make law, not interpret the law — just like they did in the Carr brothers case,” the Brownback campaign said in a statement.
The governor’s campaign also noted that Supreme Court Justice Carol Beier’s husband held a fundraiser for Davis at her home. The justice said she did not attend the fundraiser.
Brownback has used the Carr brothers ad to raise the issue of judicial selection. The governor has long advocated that the state adopt a federal model where the governor appoints judges who are confirmed by the Kansas Senate.
The governor can pick judges for the Kansas Court of Appeals. But candidates for the Kansas Supreme Court are screened by a committee of lawyers and others that recommends three candidates for the governor to choose from.
Critics say the Kansas Supreme Court is packed with judicial activists who broadly interpret law in reaching their conclusions.
In a gubernatorial debate Tuesday, Davis called the ad sleazy and disgraceful, especially since he personally knew one of the victims. Davis said the governor should be ashamed of running the ad.
Foulston said she didn’t issue her statement for political reasons.
“I did not know Paul Davis. I have never met Paul Davis,” she said in an interview Wednesday afternoon. “If Paul Davis had done this, I would have jumped on his case as well.”