Senators Grill Commerce Secretary Nominee Before Vote Goes To Kansas Senate

Mar 21, 2019

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s nomination for commerce secretary will go to the Senate floor but without a favorable committee recommendation.

In his confirmation hearing, some Republicans blasted David Toland for lacking experience with major Kansas industries and for deriding lawmakers who haven’t supported Medicaid expansion. They also questioned him about the partisan undertones of social media post from the economic development agency he worked for in Allen County.

David Toland is pictured in the post related to his work with Thrive Allen County. It made a joking allusion to former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and a local state Senator as things that kept him up at night.

Republican Sen. Julia Lynn said that raised a red flag for her.

“He wants to lead our agency. That is a nonpartisan position," Lynn said. "This is partisan.”

Democratic Sen. Tom Holland said the criticism of Toland and other Kelly nominees was growing out of proportion.

“We’re bringing up their political free speech rights as a cudgel to beat them down, when they have every right in the marketplace to say their political viewpoints,” Holland said.

Toland said he apologized for the posting, but called some of the criticism politically motivated.

He comes from the same area as the Kansas Republican Party’s newly elected vice chair. The Capital-Journal reports Virginia Crossland-Macha and her husband opposed some of Toland’s policy proposals in Allen County.

Earlier this week, a judge Kelly had nominated to the state appellate court withdrew over partisan tweets.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @kprkoranda.

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