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Sam Brownback, a Kansas Teenager and the Streisand Effect

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, November 28 2011

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) may have found his match in a high school senior with a Twitter account.

At a Kansas Youth in Government session in Topeka with Governor Brownback last Monday, Emma Sullivan tweeted, "Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot" — as Suzanne Perez Tobias from the Wichita Eagle reported. In fact, she was only sharing a rude tweet to about 60 Twitter followers — but staffers for Brownback found the tweet in a search for mentions of the governor's name, and notified Sullivan's principal. The Eagle has what happened next:

The principal "laid into me about how this was unacceptable and an embarrassment," Sullivan said. "He said I had created this huge controversy and everyone was up in arms about it … and now he had to do damage control."

Sullivan said the principal ordered her to write letters of apology to Brownback, the school’s Youth in Government sponsor, the district’s social studies coordinator and others.

Karl Krawitz, the school principal, did not return calls or e-mails Wednesday.

Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said her office had forwarded a copy of Sullivan’s tweet to organizers of the school-sponsored event "so that they were aware what their students were saying in regards to the governor’s appearance."

"We monitor social media so we can see what Kansans are thinking and saying about the governor and his policies,” Jones-Sontag said.

Sullivan, 18 and a registered Democrat, said she was upset about the governor's support for cuts to aid for schools. Her sister, a political science major at Wichita State University, contacted the media, the AP reported.

Soon after the first press coverage, Sullivan's hashtag was all over Twitter, and @emmakate988 now has 7,713 followers.

Tobias from the Wichita Eagle storified the online reaction to Sullivan's predicament.

In addition, several comments on Gov. Brownback's Facebook wall criticize his staff's reaction.

Following the overwhelming online response, Sullivan has told the AP and tweeted that she will not be writing the apology letter.

She said she wouldn't mind talking to the governor, who so far has not himself commented on the incident.