I have worn many hats over my career, but this one is probably the most challenging and the most rewarding. I started my career in law after returning to the University of Kansas (KU Law) for law school as a non-traditional student, married with four children having left a career in accounting and management. I had another child while in law school, who would graduate from KU Law 25 years later. The most difficult work I did prior to coming to this office was as a trial judge for 17 years. In addition to handling the juvenile/child abuse and neglect docket, I had a caseload consisting of criminal, mental capacity, probate, and civil cases. The civil cases were largely collections cases, which provided an excellent foundation for consumer protection work.
I joined the Kansas Attorney General’s Office in January 2012 as part of the Racial and Other Bias-Based Policing Unit. A new statute had given our office the responsibility of reviewing complaints about biased policing. This was unlike anything I had ever done before, and there was no apt model to follow. Drawing from resources across the country, we developed a protocol and investigated many complaints.
After four years, I moved to the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Division when Meghan Stoppel left our office. Those were big shoes to fill and it was a steep learning curve, but I was excited to explore an area of the law new to me that included an opportunity to really help people. In September 2019, I was appointed to the position of Deputy Attorney General to lead the division.
Our division includes antitrust and charity enforcement along with deceptive and unconscionable acts of businesses, and we also oversee roofing registration, scrap metal theft reduction, student school record privacy complaints, and identity theft. The year I joined consumer protection, the Kansas Legislature passed the Wayne Owen Act, providing specific requirements for holders of records containing personally identifiable information, and set out penalties for violating those. Wayne Owen cases have been among the most significant cases that I have handled, which include cases of nursing homes that closed and abandoned patient and employee records.
We have seven attorneys, including myself, and nine and a half investigators. They make up a terrific team, and they are what I miss the most while working in a dispersed work setting. Our team saved or recovered $15,433,737.15 through mediation and litigation in 2019.
When not working, I spend time with my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I am lucky that all but one of my grandchildren live in Kansas, although that has been of little benefit during the time of pandemic. I am looking forward to our team gathering in the office again, and to family gatherings as well.
Other articles in this edition include:
- 2020 Year in Review
- Attorney General Consumer Protection News
- Federal Consumer Protection News and Other Items of Interest