Johnson County Commissioner Mike Brown is in hot water with the Johnson County Democratic Women organization and others over a Facebook post they consider to be offensive.
Three women spoke out Thursday at the County Commission meeting and urged the rest of the commissioners to strongly disapprove of Brown’s Facebook post from July 9. The post has since been taken down.
Brown declined comment at the commission meeting and did not respond Friday to The Star’s requests for comment.
Anne Pritchett, a sexual assault survivor and president of Johnson County Democratic Women, told the commission Thursday that she was speaking for about 200 women in the organization’s north and south chapters, as well as for other sexual assault survivors and others who found the Facebook post insulting.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
It depicted the Statue of Liberty with text that read, “So there I was minding my own business and a Democrat starts climbing all over me and touching me inappropriately.” It included the MeToo hashtag. Brown wrote on his post, “Well, that’s awkward.”
On July 4, a woman protesting the separation of migrant families was taken into custody after she climbed the base of the Statue of Liberty.
Pritchett said Brown, a Republican, had shared the post publicly before he took it down, and it was “liked by many current and former elected Republicans in Johnson County, sadly.”
Johnson County Commission seats are non-partisan. But Pritchett lamented the divisive political climate in the country and said memes like the one Brown posted don’t help.
“There is an ongoing war of words between Republicans and Democrats in this country,” she noted, adding that there’s also a growing chorus of voices, joined by Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, who are urging people to respect political differences “while trying to work collaboratively to do what’s best for everyone.”
“Now, that war of words has been brought to Johnson County by Mr. Brown,” she said. “We should expect better from our elected officials.”
She pointed out that the seven county commissioners represent nearly 100,000 Johnson County Democrats as well as thousands of sexual assault survivors.
“Mr. Brown, you should’ve known better,” she scolded.
Jan Pringle, who lives in Gardner, which is part of the southern Johnson County 6th District that Brown represents, asked Brown for an apology. He offered no comment.
“I think it’s a sad state of affairs when something of this importance and this significance is treated lightly, as if it was someone’s amusement,” she said.
Mari-Lynn Poskin, a Leawood Republican, also told Brown she was “deeply offended.” She said voters would remember this incident during upcoming elections.
Four county commissioners are up for re-election this November, but Brown took office in January 2017, so he is not up for re-election this year.
When the women had finished speaking, none of the commissioners had any comment except Commission Chair Ed Eilert. He noted that “individuals have their own private services for communicating with their constituents.”
He emphasized, “That is not part of Johnson County’s communication system, nor is it a part of every commissioner’s communication system.”
“Items that appear on a private Facebook posting are expressions of opinion by the poster and are not reflections of other commissioners or the county in general,” Eilert said.