KS Attorney General candidate under fire for depiction of lasso around officer's neck

Posted at 7:40 PM, Jun 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-18 20:40:26-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The race for Kansas' top law enforcement officer is already heating up and politically charged. Monday, the Democratic party condemned one of its own candidates who is running for attorney general.

A piece of artwork that hung in Lawrence criminal defense attorney Sarah Swain's office is drawing widespread criticism from the police community. Swain took the poster down while 41 Action News was at her office.

The image shows Wonder Woman with a lasso around the neck of a police officer. 

"No police officer in the state of Kansas will ever trust her to do the right thing," said Sage Hill, who is on the executive board of the Kansas State Troopers Association.

Others say it may just be a conversation piece, designed to get people talking.

"It's a woman and they usually keep people in line," said KU senior Tara Anderson, who said she understands why some people are offended by the image.

Swain explained the poster in a statement:

In the criminal justice system, truth is at the heart of every case because the Constitution ensures that each of us is presumed innocent until proven guilty. As a criminal defense attorney for nearly 17 years, I have seen firsthand the injustice that can be doled out at the hands of less-than-honest police officers. I have been involved in many cases where the truth was ignored and people’s lives were destroyed. These are just some of the experiences that eventually led me to run for Attorney General of Kansas.

For the last several years, a poster has hung inside the front door of my law office.  It shows a female superhero wielding a lasso of truth and using the lasso to force the truth from the mouth of a police officer, a metaphor for the rigors of cross-examination, which forms the cornerstone of a zealous defense. I understand that this picture has been misconstrued by many as advocating for violence against the police and for that I apologize. I am not anti-law enforcement; I am pro-truth. And I do not condone violence in any form.

As my campaign for attorney general moves ahead, I look forward to hearing from the citizens of Kansas about the critical issues facing our Attorney General and engaging in public discourse about my platform, which includes a commitment to true criminal justice reform, proper funding of our public school system, the legalization and/or decriminalization of marijuana and CBD, ending the war on drugs, increasing transparency surrounding police shootings of citizens, and much more.

This comes the same week two Wyandotte County deputies are being buried, which several law officers mentioned when talking off-the-record.

The Kansas Democratic Party condemned Swain and her poster in a statement to 41 Action News:

The tragic deaths of Wyandotte County sheriff's deputies Patrick Rohrer and Theresa King are a sad reminder that our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe. The Kansas Democratic Party’s deepest sympathies are with the families of the fallen officers at this unfathomably difficult time.

Promotion of violence against law enforcement officers disqualifies Ms. Swain from serving as Kansas’ chief law enforcement officer. We strongly condemn and reject any depiction of violence against law enforcement, including the image from Ms. Swain’s law firm. We did not recruit or encourage Ms. Swain to run for Attorney General, nor have we had any contact with her since she filed. The Party has reached out to her seeking an explanation of her past posts, but she has not responded.

The Kansas Democratic Party honors, respects and supports law enforcement officers. As our party’s platform states, “our safety is due to the hard work and sacrifice of law enforcement officers . . . involved in overseeing the safety of others. We thank them for their service."

Nick Blessing, who is getting his master’s in political campaign management from the University of Kansas said the poster will get people talking, but it’s still a longshot for Swain to be elected.

“It doesn't surprise me. She’s been very outspoken against police,” said Blessing. “Most likely she doesn't have a good chance of winning, running as a Democrat. We have an incumbent Republican.

Hill said if she were in office, he would see bumps along the way since an attorney general works with law enforcement agencies all over the state.

“To think of the fallout… if a police officer put a rope around an attorney’s neck? It’s just unacceptable,” said Hill.

Kansans will make their decision on the next attorney general on Nov. 6.