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TOPEKA — Anti-abortion activist Mark Gietzen expressed confidence Monday that $229,000 would be secured to finance a hand recount of more than 920,000 votes cast statewide on a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution restricting the right to abortion.
The Kansas Secretary of State’s Office set a 5 p.m. Monday deadline for delivery of cash, check or credit card with a sufficient line of credit to proceed with the county-by-county recount sought by supporters of the amendment disappointed by the initial outcome. The amendment fell short in the Aug. 2 primary election by a landslide margin of 59% to 41%.
Gietzen, chairman of the Kansas Coalition for Life in Wichita and a prominent participant in anti-abortion protests in Wichita for more than 30 years, said he would pick up the torch of the recount effort launched by Colby resident Melissa Leavitt.
“There are an abundance of resources to get this done,” Gietzen said.
Gietzen also alleged — without evidence — the Kansas election earlier this month was distorted by “massive” election fraud through “ballot harvesting.” He asserted people illegally obtained, filled out and deposited ballots in drop boxes. He had filed a lawsuit in Sedgwick County before the August primary in an attempt to stop use of drop boxes, but it was tossed by a judge.
Gietzen said the recount of votes on the amendment in all 105 counties would be conducted “unless we get screwed over by the secretary of state.”
Originally, Gietzen offered a credit card of a conservative political organization to leverage the recount. Leavitt later she was grateful Gietzen agreed to “put his home up for the recount,” but encouraged others to continue donating to the cause.
Leavitt informed the Secretary of State’s Office at 4 a.m. Monday that Gietzen’s assets would be sufficient to cover a recount.
In a setback for the recount campaign, however, Leavitt was notified that she couldn’t rely on the value of Gietzen’s home to finance the recount.
Under state law, the person requesting the recount must file a bond, approved by the secretary of state, guaranteeing payment of all costs incurred by counties conducting a recount.
Leavitt had until end of the business Monday to personally secure a pathway to $229,000 required to proceed with the challenge. Through an online fundraiser, Leavitt had received commitments of $29,900, or about 10% of the projected cost of the statewide review of ballots.
“Failure to do so will result in the recount request being cancelled,” said Brian Caskey, director of elections for Secretary of State Scott Schwab.
In the alternative, Caskey said, Leavitt could amend her recount request to isolate the review to counties for which she could afford to pay the cost.
Ashley All, spokeswoman for the amendment opponent organization Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, said basis for the hypothetical recount was unclear.
“Kansans across the political spectrum voted overwhelmingly against this amendment,” All said. “In fact, 165,000 more Kansans voted ‘no.’ They sent a clear message that they want to protect the constitutional rights of women to make private medical decisions for themselves.”
Leavitt said she would continue to pray a miracle occurred in terms of advancing recount on the failed abortion amendment.
“What else can you do when you take a leap of faith? I don’t know,” she said on a social media thread. “I’m getting a lot of hate messages and stuff like that, but so far I’m doing OK and we’re going to keep pushing.”
On Monday, officials in Johnson, Shawnee and Sedgwick counties worked to certify election election results. That included votes for and against the constitutional amendment, which was sought to nullify a decision by the Kansas Supreme Court that a right to abortion existed in the Kansas Constitution.
Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: email@example.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.
John Brennan outlines just how damaging to national security Trump's classified documents scandal is
There were two Chinese people arrested at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago's club, raising questions about possible efforts of foreign countries attempting to spy on the then president. Speaking to MSNBC, John Brennan noted that it begs the question about the security of the documents that were at Mar-a-Lago and it could have been a reason that the DOJ wanted to act quickly to take the classified information back.
"It certainly seems as though the Department of Justice and Merrick Garland have been careful in terms of how they've gone about trying to retrieve these documents that should not be in the possession of Donald Trump," said Brennan. "As your chronology indicates there has been back and forth between the folks in the Trump orbit and the Department of Justice [and] National Archives, but it's clear that over the course of 20 months these very sensitive documents, seven sets of classified documents as well as other sets of documents or material that shouldn't be in his private possession down in Mar-a-Lago that these documents are something that I think were intentionally withheld from the government."
He said it isn't likely a bunch of classified information was mixed in with to-go menus or coupons.
"But there seems to be some type of effort and not just for Donald Trump and others to try to conceal the fact that he was retaining these documents," said Brennan. "And so when I look at the labels that the Department of Justice said were on these documents, top secret, SCI, secret documents and others, it's really quite concerning because who knows who might have had access to these documents over the course of these last 20 months?"
He explained that's why the DOJ would have rushed in after only two months of negotiation with Trump, because the first objective was to regain possession of them so there would not be any further damage caused. And now since there were calls for damage assessment Avril Haines and others will have to look carefully at how damaging this information might be to our national security interest given that it was unsecured and it was illegally retained for this length of time."
He went on to say that whether or not there was nuclear information in the documents and what could have happened over the past 20 months.
"I do think foreign intelligence services, the Russians and the Chinese, could have easily tried to get people into Mar-a-Lago to gain access to what was an unsecured facility, and the availability of these documents that were kept in the files there," said Brennan.
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Doug Mastriano’s campaign took down social media profile pictures of the Republican gubernatorial nominee in his U.S. Army uniforms after learning they violated a Department of Defense policy, an Army spokesperson said.
The pictures showed Mastriano on Facebook smiling in a dress uniform and beret, and in camouflage fatigues on Twitter. Pittsburgh NPR station WESA-FM reported they were removed last week.
Mastriano, who was a strategic intelligence officer in the Army for 20 years, has incorporated his military background into his political career.
But the use of those photographs and others showing Mastriano interacting with Afghan orphans or posing with fellow soldiers ran afoul of armed service restrictions on the use of such images in political campaigns, Army spokesperson Matthew Leonard told the Capital-Star on Monday.
“Any military information posted by a military member not on active duty, must be accompanied by a prominent and clearly displayed disclaimer that neither the military information nor the photographs imply endorsement by the Army,” Leonard said.
The profile pictures on Mastriano’s campaign pages on Facebook and Twitter had been replaced Monday afternoon with an image of Mastriano in fatigues captioned “Afghanistan 2006.”
The image includes a disclaimer that is partially cropped out on the Facebook page. Mastriano’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Leonard said the Army was contacted by a member of the news media about Mastriano’s use of the images. In a report Monday, WESA-FM said it asked the Army last week whether the images violated the Department of Defense policy.
“The Army contacted Mr. Mastriano’s campaign and advised it of the rules for imagery use contained within the DoD Directive and Army Regulation. At this time the matter is closed,” Leonard said.
Leonard did not respond to a follow up question about whether the new images with the disclaimer pass muster.
Mastriano, a state senator from Franklin County, served in the Army from 1987 to 2017, retiring as a colonel, and serving in combat zones including the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.
His campaign’s use of social media has come under fire for his association with the alt-right site Gab and its founder Andrew Torba. The site, to which Mastriano paid $5,000 for consulting services, has been criticized as a haven for white supremacists and anti-Semitic speech.
Mastriano has since removed his Gab profile and released a statement distancing himself from the racist and bigoted statements of its users and founder.
Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John Micek for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.