Attorney General Steve Six on Thursday defended his decision not to join other states in a legal challenge to federal health care reform, while his Republican rival vowed to find a way for Kansas to join that lawsuit.


Attorney General Steve Six on Thursday defended his decision not to join other states in a legal challenge to federal health care reform, while his Republican rival vowed to find a way for Kansas to join that lawsuit.

Six and challenger Derek Schmidt discussed the lawsuit during their first face-to-face debate.

Six said attorneys in his office examined the lawsuit and concluded it had little or no chance of success. He called it an out-of-state venture that would consume resources better spent keeping children safe, fighting Medicaid fraud and protecting consumers — the mission of the attorney general's office.

"We have had a history in this attorney general's office, that I have worked for three years to turn around, and that is a history of pursuing political agendas that are important to that particular attorney general and it has driven the office off the cliff," Six said during the debate, which was sponsored by the Wichita Crime Commission. "Consumer fraud went unchecked, Medicaid fraud went unchecked as particular personal agendas were pursued."

With his comments, the Democratic attorney general sought to liken Schmidt to former Attorney General Phill Kline, an anti-abortion Republican known for trying to prosecute some of the state's abortion providers.

Schmidt argued the federal health care law claimed an unprecedented legal authority to order Americans to buy insurance and then subject them federal regulation. He said that precedent should not be allowed to stand.