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A family in rural Kansas says they’ve been terrorized for years on end by a hellacious neighbor, who they allege shoots off guns outside their house, threatens them and inflicts a variety of other kinds of drunken mayhem on the whole neighborhood. That neighbor is Jim Brownback, brother to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, and his exasperated neighbors say he’s skating by on the family name.
The Topkea Capital-Journal wrote one hell of a story about Jim Brownback’s alleged bad behavior, much of it centered around a family named the Peines. They live just down the road from Brownback in Linn County, and say he’s made their lives hell on earth:
In June 2011, a keg of nails was poured onto the Peines’ driveway. Jim Brownback used a vehicle to block a rural intersection and obstruct the Peines’ path in June 2012. A gutted fawn, shot through the neck in September 2012 outside the hunting season in Kansas, was dumped at the end of their drive. In May 2013, Jim Brownback stopped at the Peine place to yell “bitch” at anyone within earshot. The Peines’ mailbox disappeared. Their black Labrador retriever was found slain in a ditch 15 miles from their home.
Sporadic gunfire wrapped around these incidents. Events were punctuated by explosions on Jim Brownback’s farm that met the definition of shock-and-awe. Blasts rattled windows for miles. Initially, some folks assumed a house had been flattened in a propane tank accident.
Investigators discovered Jim Brownback was packing Tannerite, an explosive marketed for use as an detonating target for shooting practice, into large canning jars and blasting the mixture with rounds from a high-velocity firearm. Authorities suggested he knock it off, the county sheriff said, but Brownback felt he had the right to do as he wished on his property.
“It’s legal,” Jim Brownback said in an interview. “It’s legal.”
In 2012, there was another volley of shots fired at their home, the Peines say:
On the night of Nov. 4, 2012, a hail of gunfire cascaded from inside a large truck surging by the Peines’ home. While a sheriff’s deputy was collecting shotgun and .223-caliber ballistics evidence soon after in the darkness, the same truck cruised past the house. The driver fled as the deputy followed in pursuit with lights flashing. A second deputy blocked the road with a patrol car to end the chase.
The Linn County law enforcement report on the incident said a “noticeably intoxicated” Brownback leapt out through one of the truck’s back doors. He informed officers nobody in the vehicle had a shotgun. The report says the driver, 20-year-old Tyler Agler, revealed a pair of shotguns were in the cab. Agler was Kara Jo Earnest’s boyfriend.
Joann Peine of the Peine family won a one-year restraining order against Brownback in 2013, but says Brownback was never prosecuted because shell casings and other evidence in the case was “lost,” as she says the sheriff’s department told her. Brownback has been arrested twice, in 2005 and 2006, for failure to pay child support (the 2006 mugshot is pictured above).
A thirdhand conversation relayed to the Topeka Capital-Journal alleges that Brownback behaved himself until his brother won re-election, then took up firing guns outside the Peine’s place immediately afterwards:
During a 2014 farm dinner, Jim Brownback chatted with neighbor Bryant Kunard. Joann Peine said Kunard, who didn’t consent to an interview, revealed to her content of the conversation between Kunard and Jim Brownback. She said Jim Brownback told Kunard at least one member of the Brownback clan sought to tamp down the fracas.
Joann Peine said Kunard attributed the following to Jim Brownback: “My brother told me I had to behave and leave my neighbors alone until after the election.”
In November, Sam Brownback celebrated a capstone ballot-box triumph with family and friends. He wouldn’t face the indignity of being a one-term governor.
About midnight on Election Day, someone at Jim Brownback’s house opened fire with a burst from a heavy weapon. The shooter followed the rhythm of a wristwatch by launching a round every 5 minutes until law enforcement responded to noise-complaint calls at 12:45 a.m.
Another local farmer says Brownback stole two of his cows in 2012. The farmer, Ben Katzer, claims that Brownback brags openly that he’ll use his brother to get out of any tight legal spots:
Parker farmer Ben Katzer, who lives near Jim Brownback, said the governor’s younger brother didn’t hesitate to rub salt in wounds he inflicted on others by boasting: “Nobody can touch me.” Others have heard similar pitches. Linn County Sheriff Paul Filla witnessed Jim Brownback invoke the governor’s name like body armor, but said it didn’t carry weight with him. Amid one conversation, the sheriff said, Jim Brownback declared, “ ‘I’ll just call Sam.’ ”
And a local attorney named Lee Tetwiler, who represented Brownback’s first wife in their divorce, says the issue is attributable to a mix of alcohol abuse and firearms: ““He drives around drunk with a gun in the truck. He’s truly the black sheep of the family. You’re not going to find anybody who has a kind word to say about him.” The local sheriff told the newspaper they weren’t going easy on Jim Brownback because of his family name, and said they would arrest him if they’d ever found him driving drunk.
Governor Brownback’s office declined to comment on the allegations, which are, truly, too wild and convoluted to accurately summarize. Read it in full here.
Mugshot courtesy of Linn County Sheriff’s Department via Topeka Capital-Journal. Small Time Big Time Dicks logo by Jezebel Staff Genius Bobby Finger