Governor Overreacts To Teen Tweet, Then Apologizes

Governor Apologizes – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback apologized Monday for what he called his staff’s “overreaction” to a disparaging tweet directed at him by a high school senior during a state Capitol visit.

Emma Sullivan, 18, said late Sunday that a Brownback staffer had notified her school’s principal about the message on Twitter, and the principal told her she had to write an apology. On Monday — the deadline for the letter, according to the teen — the Shawnee Mission School District issued a statement stating that “she is not required to write a letter of apology to the governor.”

A statement issued by Brownback on Monday did not reference Sullivan by name or mention the prospect of any apology letter. He did emphasize his support for “freedom of speech,” while thanking “the thousands of Kansas educators who remind us daily of our liberties, as well as the values of civility and decorum.”

“My staff overreacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize,” the governor said. “Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms.”

The teen made national headlines last week for a tweet she said was intended just for her friends.

During a Kansas Youth in Government field trip to the state Capitol on November 21, Sullivan wrote: “Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot.”

The Shawnee Mission East senior said she did not actually talk to Brownback, and the post referenced a joke she had with a student on the trip.

The next day, she was called into high school Principal Karl Krawitz’s office.

“I had no idea what it was about or why I was being called into the office,” she said. “I had never been in trouble before.”

Sullivan claimed that the principal “told me he needed to do damage control and was really upset.” The principal then asked her to write a letter of apology to the governor and his staff. He set Monday as the due date for the letter.