Kobach nominates former federal prosecutor to serve as KBI director

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TOPEKA — Attorney General-elect Kris Kobach said Tuesday he would nominate a former Republican rival to be director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

Kobach, who won a three-person primary before narrowly winning election in November, said he would seek Kansas Senate confirmation of Tony Mattivi, who served as an assistant U.S. attorney for 20 years before retiring in 2020. Mattivi was among three candidates in the GOP primary.

“Tony Mattivi is a highly qualified public safety professional with decades of experience working with law enforcement to put away some of the nation’s most violent and dangerous offenders,” Kobach said.

Kobach said that while on the campaign trail he realized Mattivi was valued by Kansas law enforcement officers and would “make him a perfect fit to lead” the KBI.

The director’s job opened after Kirk Thompson announced plans to retire. Thompson was appointed by Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who will leave the office in January. Schmidt lost a campaign for governor to Democrat Laura Kelly.

“I’ve worked alongside the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for three decades, and I know it is a crown jewel of Kansas law enforcement,” Mattivi said.

In the U.S. Department of Justice, Mattivi prosecuted the al-Qaida mastermind behind the USS Cole bombing in Yemen in 2000. He also prosecuted former U.S. Marine Lee Loewen, who attempted to detonate a van filled with explosives in Wichita on behalf of al-Qaida.

In addition, Mattivi was involved in the 2018 conviction of three men from southwest Kansas who conspired to bomb an apartment complex in Garden City where Muslim immigrants resided.

He previously worked in the office of the attorney general and the Shawnee County District Attorney’s office before he was hired by the federal government. He earned a law degree at Washburn University in Topeka.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: info@kansasreflector.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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