In a shocking turn of events yesterday, Brownback’s top crusader against workers’ rights mysteriously left the agency. Kansas Department of Labor Secretary Karin Brownlee is no longer in charge. The announcement came buried in the third line of a press release about the appointment of two deputy secretaries, Olathe Mayor Mike Copeland and outgoing Republican Rep. Lana Gordon. The same release names Rep. Gordon as the interm Secretary until Brownback can name a replacement.
Brownback and his staff have yet to make any statement as to why Brownlee leaving the agency, but from statements she has made it appears she was likely let go.
From the Wichita Eagle:
Brownlee, an Olathe Republican who served as a senator from 1996 until 2011, when she was appointed by Brownback, declined to specify what led to her departure.
She said she was pleased with what she had “accomplished with my team at the Department of Labor.”
“It seems that a lot of good work was done,” she said. “But still it was the governor’s choice that I pursue other things.”
From the Republic:
Brownlee told The Associated Press her departure wasn’t voluntary and that she didn’t sign a resignation letter. She said Caleb Stegall, the governor’s chief counsel, told her she was expected to step down.
“I think the governor and I measure performance in different ways,” Brownlee said. “It’s hard to understand.”
Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag declined to discuss the reasons for Brownlee’s departure, adding, “It’s a personnel matter.”
From the Kansas City Star:
Brownlee was reluctant to talk about the details of her departure other than to say her “first choice” was not to leave the agency at this time.
She declined to be specific about why the Brownback administration wanted her to leave, saying the reasons “become very complicated.”
So Mrs. Brownlee, if you were indeed fired like your above comments indicate, are you now going to apply for UI? Just curious.
I would love to take this time to speculate wildly as to why she was fired, but we’ve actually got some insight about it.
According to sources within the Department of Labor, who wish to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of a personnel matter and the fear if retribution from the blood thirsty Brownback administration, tensions between Brownback and Brownlee had been escalating throughout the 2012 legislative session. Brownback was upset with Brownlee’s performance, because she was not able to shepherd through several anti-labor bills (which you can read about on our site) and thought that she was no longer able to be trusted as a point person for an even larger assault on Labor to come next year.
We knew that next we we would see a larger and move aggressive attack on workers rights but we never thought Brownback would attempt to purify his ranks to help ensure he’d get his way. But then again it’s exactly what he’s done with the Senate by targeting moderate legislators in order to buy the Senate he wants and knows will rubber stamp his extremist idea.
If we ever find out the full story as to why Karin was fired, we’ll be sure to let you know.