Government & Politics

Brownback picks Pittsburg, Kan., Republican to fill state treasurer post

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback named state Sen. Jacob LaTurner as the state’s new treasurer in 2017. LaTurner retained the office by defeating his Democratic opponent Marci Francisco.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback named state Sen. Jacob LaTurner as the state’s new treasurer in 2017. LaTurner retained the office by defeating his Democratic opponent Marci Francisco. hwoodall@kcstar.com

State Sen. Jacob LaTurner will replace Republican Ron Estes as the state treasurer of Kansas.

Gov. Sam Brownback announced the appointment Tuesday after Estes sent the governor a letter announcing he would resign April 25.

“I know Jake to be a fine man, a skilled public servant and a fiercely loyal Kansan,” Brownback said.

LaTurner, a 29-year-old Pittsburg Republican, has served in the Senate since 2013 and was chairman of the Senate’s Federal and State Affairs Committee this year.

The conservative Republican has voted against tax increases and Medicaid expansion this session.

LaTurner lists his occupation on the Kansas Legislature’s website as a small-business owner. He said during a news conference Tuesday that he does consulting work that deals with customer service

B.J. Harden, the assistant state treasurer, described the office as “the state’s bank.” The treasurer’s office also oversees the state’s effort to help people find their unclaimed property money and administers a college education savings program and other financial services, according to the state’s website.

LaTurner said his intention was to run for a full four-year term in 2018 when the office is on the ballot again.

The governor’s appointment of LaTurner opens a spot in the Kansas Senate as lawmakers prepare to return to Topeka on May 1. The Legislature is facing almost $1 billion in projected budget shortfalls through June 2019.

During a news conference Tuesday, Brownback touted LaTurner’s tenure as a legislator, where he led the charge to pass a local property tax lid and also championed other conservative legislation.

Even though he’ll soon be treasurer, LaTurner said he may still weigh in on legislative issues.

“There are going to be issues out there that I just can’t help myself but to say something about,” LaTurner said. “But by and large, I’m going to try and stay in my lane and do a good job for the people of Kansas in the role of treasurer.”

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, questioned LaTurner’s qualifications to be state treasurer shortly after the announcement.

“I just think Sam Brownback could have found somebody better qualified than, you know, a politician,” Hensley said. “And that’s essentially what Jake LaTurner has been in his adult life.”

The treasurer’s job was open because Estes won a special election earlier this month to fill the congressional seat vacated by Republican Mike Pompeo after he resigned to become director of the CIA.

Estes made around $86,000 a year as state treasurer, according to the state’s Department of Administration.

Hunter Woodall: 785-354-1388, @HunterMw

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