Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misstated the job classifications of former Rep. Brenda Landwehr and Kenya Cox. They have unclassified positions in the Department of Children in Families.
During her 18 years as a state lawmaker, Brenda Landwehr sought to shrink the size of government and frequently criticized the state’s social services agency.
Now she is part of it.
Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration hired the former conservative lawmaker — who lost to Democratic Rep. Nile Dillmore in November — as a part-time senior policy analyst in the Wichita regional office of the Department of Children and Families, formerly known as SRS.
Landwehr was hired Jan. 13, the day before the new legislative session started. She makes $26.45 an hour, which will figure out to about $27,000 a year, according to DCF spokeswoman Angela de Rocha.
The job involves analysis of all major DCF programs.
The department has also hired Kenya Cox, a Wichita Republican who ran against incumbent Democratic Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau.
Cox is the new assistant regional director for community relations in Wichita, earning $50,000 a year.
Cox recently worked as a senior constituent services representative for U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita.
“We think Brenda and Kenya are great additions to the staff,” de Rocha said, noting Landwehr’s many years working on health and social policy as chairwoman of the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Neither job was advertised to the public because both are unclassified positions that don’t have to be posted, de Rocha said.
The jobs accepted by Landwehr and Cox require professional experience but no particular degree or credential, she said.
Landwehr, who has taken some college courses but does not have a degree, has worked with her husband at their insurance consultant business in Wichita. She has specialized in retirement benefits and services.
Cox has an applied sciences degree from Cowley County Community College and has taken political science courses at Wichita State University.
Dillmore said it was more a question of where and when Landwehr would get hired, not if.
“I’m not at all surprised that the governor has chosen to reward her loyalty in the past as a legislator by finding a place for her in the administration,” he said. “It seems to be kind of a pattern with the Brownback administration.”
Landwehr took offense to that.
“He has no idea what the value is of my knowledge, skills and ability, and my commitment to making sure programs and policies in the state of Kansas run efficiently and get the most results for the people we serve,” she said.
Landwehr also has served on the House appropriations and social services budget committees.
She said that she talked about the position with Jeff Kahrs, who recently served as interim secretary of DCF, and Phyllis Gillmore, the agency’s current director.
“It seemed like a natural fit,” she said. “A part-time gig is not a payoff for anything.”