Sam Brownback's reign in Kansas is coming to an end. The embattled governor will take a job in Rome as the United Nations ambassador for food and agriculture, a former high-ranking Kansas official told Kansas Public Radio.
Brownback's time in office was a right-wing experiment of sorts. The governor was a staunch social conservative who was adamantly against abortion and same-sex marriage. His fiscal policies were inspired by conservative think tanks. In 2015, Chris Suellentrop, writing for New York Magazine, described Kansas as a "petri dish for movement conservatism, a window into how the national Republican Party might govern if the opposition vanished."
Brownback looked to eliminate income taxes from the state's revenue, and instead wanted to rely strictly on consumption taxes — the American dream for conservatives. The result was not pretty. Kansas entered a dire situation where Brownback had to cut education as the state faced a budget crisis.
Despite his failed policies, Brownback urged President Donald Trump to replicate his tax plan in Kansas. Trump responded by getting the governor out of Dodge.
Brownback's office has not confirmed or denied the reports, but a source told Kansas Public Radio that the appointment is "a done deal."
David Lane, the former ambassador to the U.N. agencies in Rome from 2012 to 2016, told KPR that he heard a couple of weeks ago that Brownback may be selected for the position. Lane said the U.S. is a major funder for the international organizations and the ambassador leads the U.S. team working with those groups.
“His humanitarian work, his work on malaria and some of the other things he was associated with as a senator, would be as valuable or even more than his experience with agriculture,” Lane said.