New attorney general candidate surfaces

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Less than two hours after Rep. Blaine Finch announced he would not run for attorney general, a former career prosecutor has emerged as a candidate to be the state’s top law enforcement officer.

Tony Mattivi, a former assistant U.S. attorney, announced Monday morning that he was appointing Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett as his treasurer for an upcoming campaign for attorney general.

The Republican Topeka attorney said a formal announcement of his candidacy is expected in the coming days.

He would face Republican state Sen. Kellie Warren and former Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the primary election.

“We look forward to seeing where Mr. Mattivi stands on key issues important to Kansans,” a spokesman for the Warren campaign said in a statement.

Kobach’s campaign declined comment.

Finch announced Monday he wasn’t running for attorney general, declining to endorse either Warren or Kobach.

“We must have a competent attorney enter this race. One who truly understands the
law and who knows how to win in the courtroom,” Finch said.

“I know there are many such attorneys in our state, and I am hopeful a qualified candidate will step forward,” he said.

Finch didn’t say anything about Mattivi, whose name has been circulating as a potential candidate for a couple weeks.

Mattivi, a Topeka attorney who serves as vice president and general counsel of the health care company MedCor, had worked as an assistant U.S. attorney from 1998 to 2020.

He had worked for several Kansas U.S. attorneys during several Republican and Democratic administrations, including Stephen McAllister, Barry Grissom, Eric Melgren and Jackie Williams.

McAllister was appointed U.S attorney by President Donald Trump, Grissom was appointed by President Barack Obama, Melgren was appointed by President George W. Bush and Williams was appointed by President Bill Clinton.

Mattivi spent more than four years as the trial counsel in the prosecution of  Abd Al-Rahim Hussain Muhammed Al-Nashiri, who was charged with masterminding the attack that killed 18 on the U.S.S Cole destroyer in 2000.

Mattivi prosecuted Terry Lee Loewen, the former U.S. Marine who pled guilty to
attempting to detonate a van filled with high explosives at the Wichita airport on behalf
of al Qaeda during the Christmas travel season.

He also prosecuted John T. Booker, who pled guilty to trying to detonate a truck bomb at the base hospital on Fort Riley on behalf of the Islamic State.

He also headed a team of Justice Department prosecutors who convicted three Kansas militia members for plotting to blow up an apartment building and slaughter more than a
hundred Somali Muslim refugees as they worshipped in their mosque.

He also served as an assistant Kansas attorney general from 1996 to 1998 when Carla Stovall was attorney general.

He also worked as an assistant district attorney in Shawnee County from 1995 to 1996 and as a paramedic for two years in Douglas County.

In the early 1990s, he was operations director for TEK Ambulance Inc. in Crystal Lake, Illinois.

He has a bachelor’s degree in aviation management from Metropolitan State University in Denver and a law degree from Washburn University.

He is an adjunct professor at Washburn Law School where he teaches trial advocacy.