Bait and Switch?

Kansas leaders and lawmakers reacted with a combination of despair and fury at Boeing’s decision to close its defense operations in Wichita, Kan., in light of Boeing’s win of the KC-46 tanker contract last year. Sen. Pat Robertson (R) said in a press release that “Boeing’s chairman sat in my office 22 months ago during that battle and promised me,” then Senator Sam Brownback (R), and then Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R) “that if we won the fight to get the tanker contract back, Boeing would stay in Wichita.” Roberts said Boeing repeated the pledge last February when it won the contract. Sen. Jerry Moran (R) released a statement saying he was “outraged” by the announcement and would “strongly urge” Boeing to reconsider. Brownback, now Kansas governor, called the company’s decision “very disappointing” in a release, and said he would continue to work to bring jobs to the “world class” aviation facilities in Wichita. Boeing vice president Mark Bass said in a press conference Wednesday that the company would actually spend more money than ever in Kansas, as it pays some 470 suppliers in the state $3.2 billion to make parts for its booming airliner business.