TOPEKA — Kansas Attorney General Steve Six launched his campaign for a full term Thursday, saying he had restored trust in the office and protected consumers.
Then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius appointed Six to the office in January 2008 after Paul Morrison resigned amid a sex scandal.
"We cannot go back to the days when politics guided the office," Six said during a rally in the Old Supreme Court Room in the Statehouse.
He said he was referring to former Attorney General Phill Kline's focus on investigating abortion providers. Six, a Democrat, said Kline, a Republican and abortion opponent, dismantled the state's consumer protection division to divert resources elsewhere.
"When I walked in the door, I made it clear: Things were going to be different," Six said. "Under my watch, the attorney general's office would have the right priorities again."
Six had additional stops scheduled Thursday in Wichita and Pittsburg and today in Garden City. He paid the $1,489 filing fee to the secretary of state's office in Topeka during his stop there. He is the only candidate for his party so far on the Aug. 3 primary ballot.
Six, who lives in Lawrence, was a district court judge in Douglas County when Sebelius appointed him attorney general. Morrison, also a Democrat, had defeated Kline in November 2006, in part by making issue of Kline's drive to file charges against George Tiller, the late Wichita abortion provider, and a Planned Parenthood clinic in Overland Park.
"I think the trust Kansans must have in the top law enforcement officer was eroded by some of the political and personal scandals that took place," Six said. "Some of the political issues that drove the office in the past years, we're still working on today. We've been cleaning up cases like that over the last three years."
Two Republicans also are running for attorney general. They are Ralph DeZago, city prosecutor for Junction City and a former assistant attorney general, and state Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt of Independence.
Six said that if elected in November he would continue to focus on protecting Kansas consumers and businesses by cracking down on scam artists with unscrupulous practices and prosecuting individuals who file fraudulent Medicaid claims.
In the past year, the attorney general's office has recovered $17 million in Medicaid fraud cases, returning the money to the state.
Republican legislators tried unsuccessfully to pass a measure to force Six to join litigation challenging the new federal health care program. Six said then that he didn't think it was a wise use of his office's resources and that Kansas would benefit from whatever ruling resulted from the legal challenges. Schmidt was one of those who encouraged Six to join the litigation.
Six repeated his stance Thursday.
"Kansas has scant state resources, and it's my judgment call about what we should do with them," he said.