Kansas Attorney General-elect Kris Kobach will nominate Tony Mattivi to serve as the director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation upon taking office in January and announced the appointment of recently retired Kansas Court of Appeals Judge Anthony J. Powell to serve as solicitor general, according to press releases from Kobach’s office.
“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. “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.
“Tony’s experience and integrity make him a perfect fit to lead the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and I’m grateful he has answered this call to service.”
As an Assistant U.S. Attorney for more than 20 years, Mattivi worked with the highest levels of law enforcement to prosecute some of the nation’s most notorious criminals including the al Qaeda mastermind behind the USS Cole bombing in Yemen in 2000 and Terry Lee Loewen, the former Marine who, on behalf of al Qaeda, attempted to detonate a van filled with high explosives at the Wichita airport.
He retired from the U.S. Justice Department in 2020 after decades prosecuting everything from white collar crime to human trafficking and terrorism.
He brings a fresh perspective to the role of the KBI director, but he isn’t new to the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, Kobach’s office said. He worked in the AG’s office and the Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office before joining the Justice Department. He graduated with honors from Washburn Law School and from Metropolitan State College of Denver.
“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. ”I’m honored to be asked to lead such a premier law enforcement agency.”
Mattivi will succeed Kirk Thompson, who announced his retirement earlier this month.
The KBI is the principal criminal investigation agency for the state of Kansas. It operates the state’s criminal forensic laboratories, and investigates crimes throughout the Sunflower State. The attorney general nominates the KBI director, and the Kansas Senate must confirm the appointment. When confirmed, Mattivi will serve as the 13th KBI director since the agency was established in 1939.
As Kansas Solicitor General, Powell will represent the state in civil and criminal appeals.
“Judge Powell has earned great respect in the Kansas legal community. As a former judge himself, he knows how to effectively defend the rights of Kansans in state and federal courts,” said Kobach. “He will be a formidable litigator for the state of Kansas.”
“I’m honored to join our new attorney general’s leadership team and look forward to maintaining the same skilled professionalism from the solicitor’s office that I witnessed firsthand as a judge on the Kansas Court of Appeals,” Powell said. “I intend to advance sound legal arguments to the court and aggressively advocate for the people of Kansas as Solicitor General.”
Appointed to the Court of Appeals in 2013, Powell retired in June. During his tenure on the court, he authored nearly 700 opinions which included several important published decisions in the areas of criminal law and sentencing, family law, workers’ compensation, torts, and tax law.
Powell also served as a Sedgwick County District Judge for ten years. While in private practice, Powell served four terms in the Kansas House of Representatives where he was elected Majority Whip. He also chaired several committees, including Federal and State affairs, and Ethics and Elections.
Powell earned his bachelor’s degree from George Washington University and his juris doctorate from Washburn University School of Law, where he served as the associate editor of the Washburn Law Review.
The Kansas Solicitor General’s position was created in 2007.