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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback apologizes for flap over student tweet

November 28, 2011 | 12:29 pm

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Monday apologized for his staff's response to an 18-year-old student’s tweet about him

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Monday apologized for his staff's response to an 18-year-old student's tweet about him.

In a statement emailed to reporters and posted on the governor’s Facebook page, Brownback, a conservative Republican, said his staff had overreacted to the tweet by high school senior Emma Sullivan. She had tweeted that the governor "sucked."

The tweet was sent during a Youth in Government program last week in the state Capitol.

Sullivan did not actually speak to the governor, but his staff, which was monitoring social media, complained. Her principal eventually ordered her to write a letter of apology to the governor, which Sullivan refused to do.

The school district said in a statement Monday that Sullivan did not have to apologize.

During the weeklong dispute, Sullivan became a symbol of free speech for many in the liberal blogosphere who are at odds with Brownback's politics. The number of her followers has grown to almost 10,000, more than triple the governor's.

"My staff over-reacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize," Brownback wrote of the incident.

"Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms," he said.

Brownback also praised educators "who remind us daily of our liberties, as well as the values of civility and decorum. Again, I apologize for our over-reaction."

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-- Michael Muskal

Photo: Gov. Sam Brownback's Facebook page

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