I want to begin this month’s “Chief of the Month” section by saying that I take great joy in my family and to thank them publicly for their willingness to tag along with me in this crazy journey I’m going to tell you about. My wife, Jean, is a stay-at-home mom who wrangles me, our two sons: Nathan (15) and Luke (12), and our 140 lb. lap-Mastiff, Hendrix. And while we haven’t moved them to Lincoln yet (real estate is FUN!!!), they’re excited to join me and are looking forward to the many opportunities for music and culture here that aren’t available in Pierre.
If someone had told me at the beginning of March 2020 that in the next year I would not set foot on a commercial airliner, that I’d work from home more than from the office, that the country would grind to a halt, that I’d learn how to video conference, or that I’d have the job offer of a lifetime come from a friend, I’d have thought they were completely nuts. But here I am: haven’t been on a plane since 2019, I worked from home for more than three months and continue to work from home one week out of three. I saw the country grind to a halt, and that job offer is the reason why I’m writing this now. I still haven’t properly learned how to video conference.
When I graduated from law school in May 2008, I was fortunate to find a job with a private firm that did both criminal defense and civil work in Mitchell, South Dakota (home of the Corn Palace!!). I cut my teeth on six years of representing criminal defendants and dabbling in family law. I lost some jury trials, and I won some. I got involved in a local political party, and I ran for City Council unopposed, serving three years as a Councilman and several years as a County Party Chair. Through that, I got to know South Dakota’s then-Attorney General, Marty Jackley. At a political meeting in 2013, he asked me if I was ready to turn my black hat in for a white one. A year later, I decided it was time.
Marty wanted me as his Consumer Protection Attorney. I had no clue what that was about, but it sounded like worthy work. After all, I went to law school because I wanted to help people. Six weeks after I started, my office sent me to the 2014 NAAG Spring Consumer Protection Meeting in DC. At that meeting, and subsequent meetings, I met Abby Stempson, then the Nebraska CP Chief. I met Paul Singer, the head of the CP area in the Texas Attorney General’s Office, Meghan Stoppel in the Kansas AG’s CP Division, and so many other wonderful colleagues who accepted me, the brand-new CP Attorney from the flyover state that most people had never been to. Over the years the professional relationships became true friendships. Eventually, Abby left for NAAG and Nebraska hired Meghan as the Consumer Chief. Continuing the close working relationship I had with the Nebraska AG’s Office, I worked with Meghan quite a bit and was always impressed with the things that her “small” office could accomplish.
The week after the 2020 NAAG Consumer Protection (Virtual) Fall Conference, Meghan called me to tell me that she was leaving the Nebraska AG’s Office and that, along with AG Peterson, they felt that I’d be the best person to fill her role in the office. I was extremely flattered, and my family and I started exploring the possibilities and praying about the decision. Long story short, here I am!
I never thought I’d leave “The Tropical Dakota.” I love that state. My family moved there when I was 14. All the rest of my family have moved to other states, while I stayed because I loved it so much. But the importance of the work being done in the consumer realm is bigger than me and what I want. In the end, my family and I made our decision in large part because I can help more people and be more effective in this office. I relish being effective in my calling, and because of the other attorneys and staff in my office, and all my colleagues around the states and territories of this great nation, I can be. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Prov. 27:17
When we get back to our in-person meetings, let’s go out and grab a nice stout or porter, sing some karaoke, and get back to sharpening one another. People are counting on us.
Other articles in this edition include:
- The Impact of Recent Tax Law Changes on Consumer Protection Settlements
- Attorney General Consumer Protection News
- Federal Consumer Protection News and Other Items of Interest