Sen. Susan Wagle says it’s an ‘excellent time’ to leave Kansas

In exchange for her 2018 vote to support casinos at racetracks, the Kansas Senate leader was counting on Wichita billionaire Phil Ruffin to secure her a posting as a US ambassador.

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Opinion

February 24, 2020 - 10:33 AM

Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, is president of the Kansas Senate. Courtesy photo

The timing suggests that Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle thought she would get something very specific and very valuable — glamorous, really — in return for her 2018 “yes” vote for racetrack casinos, after years of strongly opposing expanded gaming in the state.

Ten days after that vote, this happened: Wagle listed President Donald Trump’s close friend and business partner Phil Ruffin, the Wichita-born billionaire casino owner who changed Wagle’s mind when he met with her on the issue, and who stood to directly benefit from such an expansion, as a reference in her pursuit of an ambassadorship from Trump. Preferably to Belgium or Ireland.

These are prize postings that typically go to major donors. Trump’s ambassador to Belgium, Chicago businessman (and credibly accused slumlord) Ron Gidwitz, was Trump’s campaign finance chair in Illinois. His ambassador to Ireland, Cleveland billionaire Ed Crawford, was Trump’s Ohio finance chair.

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