My reply to Kansas City Star reporter Brad Cooper, a liar

I realize that far more — thousands, probably — people will know about this Kansas City Star article because I mention it on this blog, but I will use this opportunity to reiterate how thoroughly dishonest McClatchy-owned newspapers are, and to highlight the pathetic record of Kansas Senate Vice President John Vratil, who is in the fight of his political life.

Brad Cooper is a reporter for The Kansas City Star.  The Star, like most left-wing papers, cuts staff regularly and doesn’t seem to care that its bad business practices directly affect its financial bottom line.  Whatever; I join most Kansas Citians in not reading the paper.

Brad Cooper has — or had last year, at least — my cell phone number.  But on Saturday, June 2, at 7:45 p.m., hours before publication of a news article mentioning me, Cooper called my public business number, which I don’t check immediately on the weekend, and left a message.

That’s simply unprofessional.

It seems that Cooper has absorbed the work of retired political reporter Jim Sullinger, who was for the most part a professional reporter.  Cooper is a liar, but beyond that doesn’t know how to read a basic political poll, as Governor Brownback’s former Chief of Staff David Kensinger once pointed out here.

This article mentions my candidacy for the Johnson County Commission.  Actually, it turns out he really didn’t try to contact any of the candidates, as you can see in the article that quotes various Web sites and Facebook.  It’s an article which I would have been embarassed to attach my name to, if I were a Star reporter.  To get his kicks, Cooper threw in a non-sourced statement, without a period at the end of the sentence, that said about me, “He hasn’t always got along with other Republicans”

Now, to be clear, it’s not an inaccurate statement.  There are some serious problems with the leadership of the Republican Party in Kansas, and I’ve pointed some them out.  As just one example, Party Chairwoman Amanda Adkins and her Executive Director Clay Barker actually tried to stop the formation of a city party organization in Overland Park last year; worse than their obstruction was the outcome, in which precinct leaders completely ignored Clay Barker and probably showed up in greater number because of Barker’s anti-Republican actions.

And I kind of chuckle knowing that Brad Cooper’s motives are to HURT me, when it probably doesn’t hurt me at all, for a reader to see it stated that I don’t automatically do what a Republican leader tells me to do — yes, I try to be independent minded, and I never wish to be a “party-first” person, and Cooper indirectly gives me a compliment.

But what Cooper is referring to, without mentioning it, is to a meeting that took place a little over a year ago in Olathe, Kansas, where liberal Senator Julia Lynn was speaking AGAINST far-left Senate leader John Vratil, who is from Johnson County and is the Senate Vice President.  But the problem is, Julia Lynn voted for Vratil in 2008 as Senate leader, and only after Vratil secured about $50,000 in donations for Lynn.  By the way, this is all well-known — it’s not a small thing to say that someone was literally bought off, but unfortunately for Kansans, John Vratil literally bought off Julia Lynn.  After Julia Lynn spoke at this Olathe meeting against John Vratil, I reminded the crowd that Senator Lynn was actually a supporter of Vratil.  After that, Lynn complained to a couple of her donors (who weren’t at the meeting), and one or more of these donors called up fellow fake conservative Rep. Owen Donohoe of Shawnee (who wasn’t at the meeting), who called Star reporter Brad Cooper, who quoted Donohoe as saying that I was rude to Lynn.  Cooper intentionally left out the fact that Donohoe wasn’t at the meeting.

So now a year later Cooper continues his passive-aggressive attacks.

I have no idea whether this will see print, or whether it’s only written on The Star’s “Midwest Democracy” blog — which I won’t link to, because it doesn’t deserve to get traffic from this site.  I’ll point out that The Star’s blog for a long time was called “Prime Buzz,” because it started out as a paid subscription.  That failed, and it continued as a free blog called “Prime Buzz,” which I never figured out.  I see now that they finally removed the “prime” reference.

Here is my reply to Brad Cooper’s article:

To reporter Brad Cooper: you called at 7:45 p.m. on Saturday night, June 2 (hours before publication), and leaving a message on my business line, which I don’t check on the weekends, and when I know that you have my phone number.

Here I was catching up on “Burn Notice” on a Saturday night, and a friend lets me know about this article, written in such a typical Brad Cooper-style fashion.

I’ll remind readers that Brad Cooper is the political reporter for The Star, but — as former Brownback Chief of Staff David Kensinger pointed out — Cooper doesn’t know how to read basic political polls (http://midwestdemocracy.com/blogs/entries/brownback-chief-staff-responds-blog-post/)

Let’s look at your article, here, Brad. For starters, you remind your readers that you, in fact, support corruption in Kansas government. John Vratil, who is going to lose to Jeff Melcher for the Kansas Senate in the Leawood/OP area (if Vratil decides to seek re-election), literally bought off fellow Senator’s Julia Lynn’s vote for Vratil’s leadership post with $50,000 in campaign contributions — you know this, but haven’t reported on it — and you hilariously criticize me for “not getting along” with thoroughly dishonest “Republican” public officials like Vratil. Yes, I join nearly every Kansas Republican voter in being appalled at Vratil’s behavior.

John Vratil is the no-bid contract lawyer for Johnson County’s schools, has been the taxpayer-funded lobbyist for the schools, and votes for yearly increases in those school budgets, refusing to recuse himself from voting. Vratil tried to actually draw out the primary opponent of liberal “Republican” Senator Tim Owens! (You mention that I lost a Kansas Senate race — what you don’t mention is that, at age 28 in 2008, my opponent was Sen. Owens, who had been an elected official for 25 years; that election was before Owens abused his office to openly and unapologetically draw political opponents out of his district, and it was before Owens had supported the 46% property tax increase in Overland Park).

Brad, many of your ideal “Republican” legislators like Senator John Vratil are not going to be around next year, because voters are better informed today than they’ve ever been in Johnson County. They get their news through Facebook, Email, and blogs such as http://www.RedCounty.com (where I contribute), and fewer people than ever read your biased reporting.

What I don’t get — it would be in your paper’s financial interest, for you to stop lying about conservative and libertarian public officials. Every time you write an article like this, you lose readers.

While I’m here, Brad, my PAC was formed in 2009, not 2010 (go to Google, type “Kansas GEC” for “governmental ethics commission” and follow the links).

And you forgot a period half-way through.

Will this be in print? Eh, never mind, nobody outside of the Shawnee Mission East area, where I grew up, reads your paper, anyway.



Connect with Benjamin Hodge at FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle PlusThe Kansas Progress, and LibertyLinked. Hodge is President of the State and Local Reform Group of Kansas.  He served as one of seven at-large trustees at Johnson County Community College, a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, a delegate to the Kansas Republican Party, and was founder of the modern Overland Park Republican Party.  His public policy record is recognized by Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, the NRAKansans for Life, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).


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