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Governor disputes GOP characterization of her absence at law enforcement memorial ceremony

The family of the late Gove Co. Sheriff Allan Weber traces his name at the KS Law Enforcement...
The family of the late Gove Co. Sheriff Allan Weber traces his name at the KS Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony on Friday, October 8, 2021.
Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 3:46 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Gov. Laura Kelly is defending her support for law enforcement in light of a GOP fundraising email that calls her out her absence at the recent law enforcement memorial ceremony.

The email from the Kansas Republican Party links to a Breitbart article with the headline “Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly Skips Annual Police Memorial to Attend Democrat Governors’ Event.” The Democrat Governor’s Association Conference was being held in New Mexico, conflicting with the Oct. 8 ceremony at the Kansas Statehouse.

The Kansas GOP’s email says Kelly chose to “rub elbows with national Democrats” and “chose to fundraise over honoring fallen heroes.”

Kelly’s office disputes the characterization. Spokesperson Sam Coleman said, “These partisan attacks only serve to wrongfully politicize an important issue.”

Kelly told 13 NEWS the gathering was a policy meeting, not a fundraiser. She said she is the granddaughter of a law enforcement officer and points to her record as a State Senator and Governor.

Her office said Kelly supported pay increases for state law enforcement, and signed a bill increasing benefits for families of fallen first responders.

“I think if you ask anybody on the street how I have behaved as a governor toward law enforcement, they would let you know that I am a good friend of law enforcement, and I value and respect the work that they do every single day,” Kelly said.

But the GOP email, signed by the party’s executive director Shannon Golden and linking to a donation page, questions the governor’s priorities.

“Each day our men and women in blue work to keep our communities safe, the least Laura Kelly can do is show up,” Golden wrote. 

The leading Republican candidate in next year’s election - Attorney General Derek Schmidt - spoke at the ceremony. Kelly did so at the 2019 ceremony. Last year’s event was canceled due to the pandemic, and this year’s event was postponed from May.

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