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Kansas GOP fundraiser beats effigy of Biden, while other Republicans condemn conduct

Kansas Republicans have called for the resignation of state GOP chairman Mike Brown, seen at the state GOP convention in February 2023.
Tim Carpenter
/
Kansas Reflector
Kansas Republicans have called for the resignation of state GOP chairman Mike Brown, seen at the state GOP convention in February 2023.

Kansas Republicans have condemned a fundraiser Friday night where attendees paid to kick and beat an effigy of President Joe Biden, distancing themselves from extremists who have seized control of the party.

The Biden-bashing antics were part of a Kansas GOP event in Johnson County, where rocker Ted Nugent and disgraced former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline were the main attractions.

A video posted by “MolonLabeTruth” to the far-right social media platform Rumble shows “highlights” from the event, which also included karate chops to blocks that read “Let’s Go, Brandon,” code for a profane insult of Biden. The video, which has now been unpublished, shows several people at the event attempting a roundhouse kick to a mannequin bust with a Biden mask and “Let’s Go, Brandon” T-shirt. Another woman is seen beating the president’s face with a foam bat.

Kansas GOP chairman Mike Brown, an election denier who narrowly won the leadership position a year ago, touted the fundraiser event for weeks in official GOP emails — with no mention of the Biden effigy. General admission tickets were listed at $100, with premier seats for $300.

Brown didn’t respond to an email seeking comment for this story.

On Saturday, former GOP chairman Mike Kuckelman condemned the Biden bashing in a post on Kuckelman’s personal Facebook page. Other Republicans joined him in comments on the post.

Kuckelman said guests at the event were invited to beat the Biden effigy in exchange for a donation. He called for the resignations of Brown and Johnson County Republican Party chairwoman Maria Holiday.

“This conduct is shameful, and it is WRONG. Brown and Holiday must resign,” Kuckelman wrote. “Republicans, especially elected Republicans, must demand the resignations of Brown and Holiday. Silence is complicity in this case.”

Kuckelman said Republicans “rightfully demanded” that Kathy Griffin be canceled after a photo emerged with her holding a bloody, severed replica of then-President Donald Trump’s head. Republicans “must speak equally as loudly” about the bashing of Biden’s effigy, Kuckelman wrote.

“I don’t agree with President Biden’s policies, but he is a fellow human being,” Kuckelman wrote. “No one should condone or defend this horrific and shameful conduct.”

John Altevogt, a conservative social media commentator, said the event shows how far the party’s leadership has drifted from mainstream politics. He described Brown’s supporters as QAnon and white supremacists who have “no place in legitimate Republican political discourse.”

“What should become brazenly obvious from this post is the wide range of Republicans who are disgusted by this behavior,” Altevogt wrote in a comment on Kuckelman’s post. “There are Trump people here and Principles First people here. And yet, here we are, joined together to rid the party of this embarrassing scourge.”

Former state Sen. Michael O’Donnell called the event “sad.”

Others described it as “disturbing,” “disgusting,” “shocking,” “enraging,” and “despicable.” Several people said they were lifelong Republicans who were considering leaving the party.

Julie Roller Weeks, vice chairwoman of the Dickinson County Republicans, wrote: “We fight with our votes, NOT fists and bats. This is disgraceful!”

Brandon Kenig, who described himself as a former chairman of the Kansas Young Republicans and campaign volunteer, said the Republican Party “that supported democracy and fought autocracy has faded into history, and the only core tenant of the party that remains is full, undying loyalty to one man,” referencing the party’s presumed nominee for president.

“Sadly, this isn’t surprising at all,” Kenig wrote. “It’s the logical extension of a a cult-like mentality. When a majority of the party base sees the opposition as inherently evil and dehumanizes them repeatedly over policy disagreements, it’s only a small step to simulated political violence and then actual political violence. Due to the lack of courage from party leaders, most base voters embrace deep-seated lies such as 2020 election denialism, vaccine conspiracy theories, QAnon nonsense about politicians being pedos, the deep state, and worse, why wouldn’t those insane beliefs justify a response like this?”

Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes, a Democrat from Lenexa, in Johnson County, encouraged GOP elected officials to condemn the beating of Biden’s effigy.

“Political violence of any kind is vile and wrong, and we cannot afford to brush it under the rug when others encourage it,” Sykes said. “The focus now has to be on Republican leadership of the Kansas Senate and House. If my colleagues in the Legislature agree that this conduct is shameful and dangerous, they cannot turn a blind eye to this behavior. Their silence is consent.”

This story was originally published by the Kansas Reflector.

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Sherman Smith