Derek Schmidt

Derek Schmidt
44th Kansas Attorney General
Assumed office
January 10, 2011
Governor Sam Brownback
Jeff Colyer
Preceded by Stephen Six
Majority Leader of the Kansas Senate
In office
January 10, 2005  January 10, 2011
Preceded by Lana Oleen
Succeeded by Jay Emler
Member of the Kansas Senate
from the 15th district
In office
January 8, 2001  January 10, 2011
Preceded by Tim Emert
Succeeded by Jeff King
Personal details
Born (1968-01-23) January 23, 1968
Independence, Kansas, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jennifer Schmidt
Education University of Kansas (BA)
University of Leicester (MA)
Georgetown University (JD)

Derek Schmidt (born January 23, 1968) is the 44th and current Kansas Attorney General. Schmidt previously served as a member of the Kansas Senate, representing the 15th district, and as Senate Majority Leader. Before serving in the legislature, he was Special Counsel to Governor Bill Graves.[1]

Schmidt defeated then-attorney general, Democrat Stephen Six in the November 2010 elections [2] and Democrat A.J. Kotich in the 2014 elections. Schmidt resigned his Senate seat upon taking office as attorney general.[3]

Early life and career

Derek Larkin Schmidt was born on January 23, 1968 in Independence, Kansas. Schmidt is the only child of Barbara Schmidt and Bill Schmidt.[4] He attended the University of Kansas where he received a BA in Journalism in 1990. Schmidt travelled overseas to the United Kingdom where at the University of Leicester he obtained his Masters in International Politics. He went on to attend Georgetown University Law Center (GULC) where Schmidt received his Juris Doctor. While attending classes at GULC, Schmidt served as an assistant, first to former United States Senator Nancy Kassebaum, and then to Senator Chuck Hagel.[5] Following his graduation he served in several public official roles including Assistant Attorney General of Kansas, and as Special Counsel to the Governor of Kansas.[1]

Legislative career

During his time in the Senate, Schmidt supported:[6]

  • Increased state funding for education
  • Increased eligibility of children for health care
  • Nuclear-powered energy
  • Tougher punishments for repeat felons
  • Legislative spending restraint
  • Repeal of a state ban on for-profit prisons [7]

Legislation sponsored or co-sponsored by Schmidt included:[6]

  • Senate Bill 584 to consolidate the food inspections agencies
  • Senate Bill 531 to increase K-12 educational funding
  • House Sub. for SB 81 to increase child health care
  • Senate Bill 586 to create financial incentives for nuclear power plant expansion
  • House Bill 2707 to create tougher punishments for three-time thieves
  • Senate Sub. for HB 2006 to create incentives for the aviation industry

Major donors

The top contributors to Schmidt's 2008 Senate campaign, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics:[8] Kansas Association of Realtors $2,000, Kansas Contractor's Association $1,500, Watco Industries $1,500, Koch Industries $1,500, and Kansas Chamber of Commerce $1,500.

Attorney General

2010 campaign

Schmidt was the Republican nominee for Kansas Attorney General, defeating Ralph DeZago in the Republican Primary on August 3, 2010.[9] He won the general election against the incumbent, Democrat Steve Six[10] and took office on January 10, 2011.

A major issue in Schmidt's first campaign for attorney general was based on Six's decision not to join with the state of Florida and 24 other states on appeal in support of the plaintiff in the proceedings challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Six contended that “the cost of getting involved” would exceed any gain realized by Kansas if the ACA was repealed.[11]

Tenure in office

One of Schmidt's first acts attorney general for Kansas was to join the states that oppose the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on constitutional grounds in the case of Florida et al v. United States Department of Health and Human Services.[12][13] An Appeals court later ruled that the addition of those 25 states was not necessary for Florida to have standing to challenge the ACA.[14] The U.S. Supreme Court decided that case by upholding most of the ACA as constitutional, while striking down a portion of the law which would have mandated states to implement Medicaid expansion.[15][16][17]

Despite numerous judges having rejected challenges to the natural born citizenship of Barack Obama, since before he was elected president in 2008,[18] Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach persistently demanded proof of citizenship before allowing Obama's name to appear on the 2012 Kansas presidential ballot. In September 2012, while leading the State Objections Board, and supported by both Kansas Secretary of State Jeff Colyer and Schmidt, Kobach requested additional evidence that Obama was actually born in Hawaii.[19] According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, the three said they lacked sufficient evidence as to whether or not Obama was eligible to appear on the Kansas ballot as a candidate in the 2012 presidential election. They stated a need to review his birth certificate and other documents from Hawaii, as well as Arizona and Mississippi, before they could respond to a complaint alleging that the president was not a "natural born citizen." "Given the cursory response from President Obama, the Board is merely attempting to obtain additional information before making a decision," said Kobach's spokesperson.[20] In an editorial, The New York Times characterized the actions of the Kansas authorities as having "reignited long-running conspiracy theories that the president was not born in the United States." CNN reported that "the Kansas ballot measure is one of several examples of the birther movement's still-persistent presence."[21]

Schmidt also opposed allowing same sex couples from changing names on state drivers licenses, from receiving spousal health benefits, or from filing state taxes as married couples. The ACLU sought an injunction against Schmidt's initiatives to continue bans in most of the state's counties despite adversarial rulings from a federal district court in Kansas and from the U.S. Supreme Court.[22]

Schmidt joined forces with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, filing briefs which attempted to force the Kansas Democratic party to field a candidate in the 2014 U.S. Senate general election. If successful, it was anticipated to have decreased the chances of independent candidate Greg Orman of defeating incumbent Republican Pat Roberts. The Kansas District Court in Shawnee County declined to issue any such order.[23]

Schmidt, along with the attorneys general of several other states, challenged several federal regulatory actions, during the Obama administration. Schmidt and his colleagues were successful in blocking many of these regulations, particularly those proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.[24][25][26][27]

In July 2017, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton led Schmidt and a group of Republican Attorneys General from eight other states joined by Idaho Governor Butch Otter in making a threat to the Donald J. Trump administration that they would litigate if the president did not terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy that had been put into place by president Barack Obama. One, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III, subsequently reversed his position and withdrew his participation from the proposed suit on August 31. Slatery went further to urge passage of the DREAM Act.[28][29] The other Attorneys General who joined in making the threats against Trump included Steve Marshall of Alabama, Leslie Rutledge of Arkansas, Lawrence Wasden of Idaho, Jeff Landry of Louisiana, Doug Peterson of Nebraska, Alan Wilson of South Carolina, and Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia.[30]

In 2017, Schmidt's colleagues elected him to serve as president of the National Association of Attorneys General.[31]

Electoral history

Kansas State Senate 15th District Republican Primary Election, 2000[32]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Derek Schmidt 7,002 58.20
Republican Virgil Peck, Jr. 5,029 41.80
Kansas State Senate 15th District General Election, 2000[33]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Derek Schmidt 17,230 73.41
Democratic Johnetta Shelton 6,240 26.59
Republican hold
Kansas State Senate 15th District General Election, 2004[34]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Derek Schmidt (Incumbent) 24,307 100.00
Republican hold
Kansas State Senate 15th District General Election, 2008[35]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Derek Schmidt (Incumbent) 24,259 100.00
Republican hold
Kansas Attorney General Republican Primary Election, 2010[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Derek Schmidt 208,611 76.30
Republican Ralph De Zago 64,493 23.60
Kansas Attorney General General Election, 2010[10]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Derek Schmidt 458,497 54.90
Democratic Steve Six (Incumbent) 349,340 41.80
Libertarian Dennis Hawver 26,867 3.20
Republican gain from Democratic
Kansas Attorney General General Election, 2014[36]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Derek Schmidt (Incumbent) 564,766 66.70
Democratic A.J. Kotich 281,105 33.20
Republican hold


  1. 1 2 Campaign website biography
  2. Schmidt ousts Six in AG race, Topeka Capital-Journal, 2 November 2010
  3. Kansas Secretary of State Official Twitter Feed
  4. "Derek Schmidt Profile". Retrieved December 10, 2007.
  5. "Hall Center selects state Sen. Derek Schmidt as first Simons Fellow". Retrieved December 10, 2007.
  6. 1 2 Derek Schmidt's website Archived January 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. Carpenter, Tim "AG Nominees Tangle on Records" Topeka Capital-Journal. October 21, 2010. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  8. Derek Schmidt 2008 campaign contributions
  9. 1 2 "2010 Primary Election Official Vote Totals" (PDF). Kansas Secretary of State's Office. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  10. 1 2 "2010 General Election Results" (PDF). Kansas Secretary of State's Office. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  11. Schmidt’s pledge to join ACA challenge bolstered candidacy Kansas AG optimistic states will prevail, but Washburn law professor predicts otherwise, Kansas Health Institute, Jim McLean, March 26, 2012. Retrieved July 16, 2017.
  12. Schmidt, Derek (January 12, 2011). "Full text: Kansas Attorney General Schmidt's letter about health care reform". Kansas City Business Journal. Retrieved February 11, 2011. The Act’s mandate that all citizens and legal residents of the United States maintain qualifying healthcare coverage or pay a penalty (the individual mandate) is an unprecedented attempt to expand federal power that would encroach on the sovereignty of the State of Kansas and on the rights of our citizens.
  13. Klepper, David (January 12, 2011). "Kansas wants in on health care lawsuit". Kansas City Star. Retrieved February 11, 2011. The letter, addressed to Florida’s attorney general, asks permission to join the 20 states that are suing the federal government over the law.
  14. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, "State of Florida et al. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services et al, 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, August 12, 2011. Retrieved July 16, 2017.
  15. How John Roberts upheld health-care law while limiting congressional power, Christian Science Monitor, Warren Richey June 28, 2012. Retrieved July 16, 2017.
  16. P. 39–50, slip op., National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, U.S. Sup. Ct. (June 28, 2012). Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  17. Rosenbaum, Sara; Westmoreland, Timothy (August 2012). "The Supreme Court's Surprising Decision On The Medicaid Expansion: How Will The Federal Government And States Proceed?". Health Affairs. 31 (8): 1663–1672. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2012.0766. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  18. Around the nation, Washington Times, October 26, 2008. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  19. "Kan. board delays decision on Obama, ballot". September 13, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  20. "Kansas Republicans: We need to see Obama's birth certificate". Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  21. "Obama to appear on Kansas ballot after 'birther' challenge dropped". Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  22. ACLU asks for stop in denying same-sex marriages Archived December 15, 2014, at the Wayback Machine., Connecticut Post, Heather Hollingsworth (A.P.), December 8, 2014. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
  23. AG Derek Schmidt files brief in support of case to force Democrats to field Senate candidate, Wichita Eagle, Bryan Lowry, September 25, 2014. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
  24. Schmidt, Derek (December 5, 2016). "Rein in federal agencies and illegal regulations". Wichita Eagle. Wichita, Kansas. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  25. Leblanc, Aileen (August 12, 2016). "Kansas Among States Challenging New EPA Regulations On Oil And Gas Industry". KMUW. Wichita, Kansas. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  26. "Bonus Podcast: Federal Court Blocks 'WOTUS' Rule Nationwide". Kansas Ag Network. Topeka, KS. 2015. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  27. Hurley, Lawrence; Volcovici, Valerie (February 9, 2016). "U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Obama's Clean Power Plan". Scientific American. New York, NY. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  28. Tennessee’s attorney general: I’ve changed my mind, DACA is good, pass the DREAM Act,, Dara Linddara, September 1, 2017. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  29. Texas leads 10 states in urging Trump to end Obama-era immigration program, Texas Tribune, Julián Aguilar, June 29, 2017. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  30. SPLC denounces letter from 10 Attorneys General seeking "cruel and heartless" repeal of DACA, Southern Poverty Law Center, June 30, 2017. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  31. Carpenter, Tim (June 23, 2017). "Kansas Attorney General Schmidt to lead national AG organization". Topeka, KS: Topeka Capital-Journal. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  32. "2000 Kansas Primary Election Results (Kansas Senate)" (XLS). Kansas Secretary of State's Office. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  33. "2000 Kansas Official General Election Results". Kansas Secretary of State's Office. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  34. "2004 Kansas General Election Results (KS Senate)" (XLS). Kansas Secretary of State's Office. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  35. "2008 Official General Results" (PDF). Kansas Secretary of State's Office. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  36. "2014 General Election Official Results" (PDF). Kansas Secretary of State's Office. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Stephen Six
Attorney General of Kansas
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