News & Politics

Kansas Dem Congressional Candidate Apologizes After Linking Cop Killings to NRA

Kansas Dem Congressional Candidate Apologizes After Linking Cop Killings to NRA
Deputy Theresa King and Deputy Patrick Rohrer. (Kansas City Kansas police department via AP)

A Kansas congressional candidate has apologized after his disgraceful attempt to politicize the shooting deaths of two sheriff deputies in Kansas City, Kansas, blew up in his face.

Brent Welder is an outspoken Bernie Bro and Young Turks’ favorite who recently appeared on the progressive TYT YouTube channel. He’s running for Congress against Kansas Third District Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder in November.

Welder sent out a wildly exploitative campaign email Saturday, fundraising off the deaths of Deputies Patrick Rohrer, 35, and Theresa King, 44,  by linking their deaths to school shootings and the NRA.

But the tragic incident had nothing to do with the wider gun control debate. The deputies were shot while transporting murder suspect Antoine Fielder from the county courthouse back to jail on Friday. Kansas City police confirmed that Fielder managed to overpower the two officers, seizing one of their guns and killing them both.

Fielder was also shot during the confrontation and was transported to an area hospital. His condition was not immediately known.

According to the Kansas City Star, Rohrer served 7 years with the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office and King 13 years.

In his email, Welder first tried to evoke sympathy by noting that his “office in Wyandotte County was locked down because of a shooting a few blocks away at the courthouse.”

Then the email went off the rails, making political points totally unconnected to the shooting.

“I’m grateful our staff and volunteers are safe, but two sheriff’s deputies were killed yesterday because someone who shouldn’t have had a gun had one.”

Obviously. But Fielder apparently wrestled it away from someone who should have had a gun.

Hoping to gain political favor by bringing up a progressive sore spot, Welder went on to link the tragic incident to school shootings:

“We’ve gone less than a month since we’ve had a major school shooting in this country,” he wrote. “And I’m not even counting the other shooting victims from just our area this week.”

He ended by providing a link to a petition calling for Yoder to stop accepting money from the National Rifle Association: “This has got to stop. Click now to sign on to our petition calling for Rep. Kevin Yoder to stop taking NRA and gun lobby contributions. He may say nice things, but he won’t do anything as long as he is in the pocket of the NRA.”

People who were foolish enough to sign the petition were then taken to a fundraising page for Welder.

The shameless email also promoted a gun control rally in Kansas City on Monday, where Welder apparently intended to criticize Yoder’s stance on gun control.

In a note to Kansas City blogger Tony Botello, a Johnson County Republican leader wrote: “Astonishingly disgusting that any candidate would use the blood of murdered law enforcement personnel to pander to his campaign for Congress. This has to be the most egregious use of tragedy ever in elections.”

Not surprisingly, the candidate’s misguided email attracted the attention of the Kansas State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, which blasted what it called an effort to raise money off “the cold-blooded murder” of two deputies.

Mr. Welder’s use of this tragedy to further the funding of his political campaign is deplorable and completely misguided. This horrible event has nothing to do with gun control. Instead, it is another unfortunate example of the unrelenting attacks on law enforcement officers throughout our country.

Our efforts should be focused on comforting the grieving families and supporting those the men and women who place their lives on the line each day. It is not a time for political partisanship.

Shawn Borich, Welder’s campaign spokesman, told the KC Star on Monday that the campaign was sorry for what he described as “a mistake.”

“Over the weekend, our campaign made a mistake by sending out a petition email that linked signers to a donation page after they had signed our petition. We apologize for this error, particularly to the families of the two sheriff deputies killed,” Borich said in an email to the Star.

“Moving forward, Brent has directed the senior members of the campaign to review our email policy to ensure that a mistake like this never happens again. And we’ve committed to donate all of the funds raised from the petition email to the families of our two fallen heroes.”

According to the Star, Welder’s campaign only received seven donations totaling $104 from the email. Borich said they would donate $250 to the deputies’ families.


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