Governor-in-waiting Jeff Colyer on Tuesday disavowed an email sent by a Kansas Department of Corrections official that focused on how the agency’s response to state prison issues would affect Colyer politically.
"I was very disappointed that somebody had written that and that does not reflect my view," said Colyer, the lieutenant governor. "There’s one governor at a time. We don’t do things for political reasons."
We don’t do things for political reasons.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer
The email from Jimmy Caprio, a legislative liaison for the agency, was accidentally sent to a reporter on Friday. Caprio was crafting the agency’s response to questions about whether Gov. Sam Brownback should call a special session to raise pay for prison workers.
Caprio wrote that a special session "gets very hairy" and puts the governor’s office in a "tight spot. Especially if Colyer takes office."
By the end of the day Friday, Caprio was no longer employed by the agency.
House Minority Leader Jim Ward, D-Wichita, said it was difficult to take Colyer’s response with a straight face. He previously said Caprio’s mistake was that he disclosed what the Brownback administration does every day, covering itself rather than dealing with issues facing KDOC.
"The lieutenant governor is in full mode of C-Y-A," Ward said.
The email came at an inopportune time for Colyer, who has promised to set a new tone when he becomes governor.
Gov. Sam Brownback has been nominated as ambassador at large for international religious freedom, although the appointment still must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He would presumably resign once confirmed.
Colyer repeated the message on Tuesday in remarks to the Kansas State Board of Education and again when speaking with reporters.
"I want Kansans to know they’re going to have a governor who will listen to them, that Topeka will talk less and listen more," Colyer said.