Chief Deputy of the Montana Attorney General’s Office leaving office
Kris Hansen, chief deputy of the Montana Attorney General’s Office, is exiting her job, as first reported by Lee Newspapers.
Hansen was selected to be second in command to Attorney General Austin Knudsen in December of 2020. Last week, she told Lee Newspapers that she had “not fully” departed from the office, but the process is underway, and a spokesperson for Knudsen told the newspaper she was leaving to “attend to personal and family matters.”
Spokespersons for the Department of Justice did not respond to multiple questions Tuesday regarding Hansen’s departure, including when her last day will be and if the department has been recruiting her replacement.
Hansen was a key figure in a high-profile dispute last fall between the AG’s Office and St. Peter’s Health, the Helena hospital. The hospital said state officials threatened staff with legal action after they declined to offer a COVID-19 patient treatment that wasn’t approved for the virus; the AG’s Office denied threats and said it was investigating patient mistreatment.
From 2011 to 2013, Hansen represented Havre in the Montana Legislature as a representative and was a state senator from 2015 to 2017. After her time in the Legislature, she served as chief legal counsel for then-state auditor Matt Rosendale.
During her time in the Legislature, Hansen served on the Finance, Tax, Education, Judiciary, and Local Government committees. And while serving as a state legislator, she was also the chief deputy county attorney in Havre for three years.
A vocal proponent of school choice, Hansen earlier founded Big Sky Scholarships, and EdChoice, a national organization that advocates for school choice, credited her with serving as local counsel in Montana during litigation that went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue was a significant win for religious freedom advocates.
Hansen is also a Montana National Guard veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2008-09, and served a tour of duty with the Central Intelligence Agency in Mogadishu, Somalia, immediately following the Black Hawk Down incident in 1993-94, according to a press release from Knudsen announcing her role as Chief Deputy Attorney General in 2020.