Kris Kobach taps his former primary rival, a longtime federal prosecutor, to lead KBI

Attorney General-elect Kris Kobach will nominate his former primary rival, Tony Mattivi, to lead the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

Kobach announced the nomination Tuesday morning, picking a former federal prosecutor who ran in the Republican Primary for Attorney General. In his campaign, Mattivi had used his experience as a prosecutor to contrast himself with Kobach and state Sen. Kellie Warren.

After taking third in the August contest, however, Mattivi quickly endorsed Kobach over Chris Mann, a Democrat who had worked as a prosecutor and police officer.

“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 in a statement. “Along the campaign trail, I quickly realized that Tony is dedicated to seeking justice and committed to ensuring that all Kansas law enforcement officers are valued and supported. These are goals we share.”

Kobach’s announcement comes just weeks after the agency’s current director, Kirk Thompson, announced his retirement. Thompson led the state’s top investigative agency for 11 years under Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Schmidt ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor this year rather than seeking election as attorney general.

The agency is a division of the Attorney General’s Office. It frequently assists local police with major crimes and maintains a forensics laboratory.

Kobach will formally nominate the former prosecutor when he takes office in January. The Kansas Senate must vote to confirm Mattivi before he can take on the role on a permanent basis.

“I’ve worked alongside the Kansas Bureau of Investigations for three decades, and I know it is a crown jewel of Kansas law enforcement,” Mattivi said in a statement. ”I’m honored to be asked to lead such a premier law enforcement agency.”