Farmer Jim Brownback, brother to Sam, the governor of Kansas, has a long history of bullying and terrorizing his neighbors in the small town of Parker, Kan. It’s chronicled in an eyepopping, if voluminous, report by Tim Carpenter of the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Folks can read for themselves the litany of accusations against Gov. Sam Brownback’s 56-year-old younger brother and some of his family members. They include drive-by shootings, death threats, detonating explosives on his property, slaying a neighbor’s dog, stealing a neighbor’s cattle, vandalizing adjacent property, hit-and-run driving and killing a fawn outside of hunting season and leaving it gutted in a neighbor’s driveway.
According to Carpenter’s story, neighbors in the small town, about 45 miles south of Olathe, describe Jim Brownback’s actions as “neighborhood terrorism.”
Carpenter writes: “Locals aware of the dynamics shake their head in dismay. In a place where people honor the Second Amendment and revere the self-defense castle doctrine, there is astonishment no one has been gunned down.”
No kidding. Jim Brownback has clearly made life hell for a neighbors Robert and Joann Peine and their three sons for the last four years. With all the alleged gunshots coming from Brownback’s property, it really is amazing no one has been injured or killed.
The report raises some big questions.
Has Jim Brownback’s connection to the governor protected him from prosecution? Or is local law enforcement just scared of him?
Neighbors say he brags that the former is the case, with remarks like “no one can touch me.”
The report chronicles one especially disturbing instance in which local sheriff’s deputies concluded that Jim Brownback should be arrested for criminal discharge of a firearm at an occupied dwelling, following a barrage of gunfire at the Peines’ home from a truck in which a “noticeably intoxicated” Brownback was riding.
The sheriff’s department told the Peine family that shotgun shells and other evidence would be sent to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for testing, which might take 18 months.
That timeline seems odd. But after a year and half had passed, Joann Peine said the sheriff’s department told her the evidence was “lost.” It apparently never was sent to the KBI, and the Linn County sheriff and county prosecutor basically blame each other for why that wasn’t done.
And where is the governor while this is going on?
Sam Brownback refused an interview about the story. “I’m going to decline that opportunity,” spokeswoman Eileen Hawley told Carpenter.
Sorry, but that doesn’t work. The governor isn’t responsible for the actions of a brother described as a “black sheep” in an otherwise respected family. But he doesn’t get to hide and act like it’s none of his business that a family member is terrorizing Kansas citizens.
Sam Brownback needs to speak up, affirm that his brother’s actions are reprehensible and tell Kansans that he expects law enforcement to handle the problem as it would with any other citizen.
To reach Barbara Shelly, call 816-234-4594 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @bshelly.