When Bryan J. Brown gave up his picket sign for a law degree, that just made him a stronger activist- and perfect candidate for a job in Kansas state government.

Born Again 

When Bryan J. Brown gave up his picket sign for a law degree, that just made him a stronger activist- and perfect candidate for a job in Kansas state government.

Peggy Bowman's fear lasted about a minute -- from the time she answered the knock at her door until she reached for her boom box.

She knew immediately what was happening. Her boss had been through the same thing, as had other people in Wichita -- doctors who performed abortions, nurses who worked at the clinics, clinic staffers, too. As spokeswoman for the infamous Dr. George Tiller, Bowman knew it was only a matter of time before anti-abortion protesters showed up to picket in front of her neat brick duplex.

Still, she was startled by the sight of Bryan J. Brown on her front stoop. About two dozen people lingered behind him at the street. One man sat in a wheelchair holding a bullhorn. Another had handcuffed his wrists and locked his ankles in chains; bloody fetus pictures hung from each shoulder.

Brown asked Bowman to come outside and pray.

"I said, 'No, and get off my property. I'm calling the police,'" Bowman recalls.

The clutch of Christians by the curb began to sing hymns.

"I was just frantic," Bowman says. "And then I thought, give me a break. You are crazy people. I'm not going to let this do me in."

Bowman put her portable stereo in the window, cranked the volume and popped in a CD. "Kenny Rogers drove them away," she says. By the time the police arrived, only the man in chains continued to march in front of Bowman's house. Brown and the rest were long gone.

He would return a decade later, in January of this year, as a deputy attorney general -- one of the most powerful lawyers in the state of Kansas. (Brown responded to interview requests after this story went to press. Read an interview with him here.)

The announcement that newly elected Attorney General Phill Kline had hired Brown to head the state's Consumer Protection Division was buried in a January 15 press release listing new employees in the attorney general's office. As expected, Kline had flushed key staffers from Carla Stovall's administration to make room for some of his most loyal campaign workers and a few friends or friends of friends.

Kline had been in the public eye since he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House in 1986, when he was in law school. His first election was to the Kansas House of Representatives in 1992, and he distinguished himself during eight years there with his charm, his conservative Christian ideals, and his willingness to do battle with more moderate leaders of his party no matter what influence it cost him.

Until he ran for attorney general last year, he hadn't shown much interest in using his University of Kansas law degree and had let his Kansas law license lapse more than once. But despite heavy criticism from moderate politicians and the media, Kline defeated his Republican opponent, Kansas Senator David Adkins, in the August primary and in November won a narrow victory over Geary County District Attorney Chris Biggs.

In his January announcement, Kline listed ten new employees. Among them were Whitney Watson, who would be the attorney general's spokesman. Former Dickinson County Attorney Eric Rucker became his chief of staff. Kline tapped Derrick Sontag, once an employee of State Treasurer Tim Shallenburger, to be director of budget and legislative affairs. Kline named his nephew as special assistant to the attorney general.

Media outlets noted these appointments. But it was Kline's choice to head up his Consumer Protection Division -- the attorney who enforces the state's no-call list and investigates shady business practices -- that had reporters scanning their archives.

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