Political leaders in Montana expressed condolences Friday for the loss of former chief deputy Attorney General and state legislator Kris Hansen.

Hansen, 52, died Thursday morning as reported by the Helena Independent Record on Friday. She left her post with the Attorney General’s Office in May, and the role has since been taken over by David Ortley, former district court judge for the 11th District Court.

“Kris was a dear friend, a conservative leader, and an amazing woman who dedicated her life to others,” Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen said in a statement Friday. “It was an honor to have Kris on our team, and we deeply miss her presence.”

In his statement, Knudsen recognized Hansen’s service as a member of the National Guard in Iraq and a tour with the Central Intelligence Agency in Somalia.

Hansen previously served as deputy state auditor and chief legal counsel under then State Auditor Matt Rosendale.

Hansen represented Havre in legislative sessions from 2011 through 2017, first in the House and then the Senate. Hansen served on the Finance, Tax, Education, Judiciary, and Local Government committees, among others.

“With the passing of Kris Hansen, we’ve lost a committed public servant and patriot, and I’ve lost a friend,” Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte tweeted Friday. “Her indomitable spirit left an impact on all who knew her.”

“Kris Hansen was a beacon of light to anyone who knew her,” said Montana State Senate President Mark Blasdel in a statement Friday. “Always dedicated to any task she put her mind to, she was a force to be reckoned with and served our country and our state in many capacities over the years.”

Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen tweeted Thursday evening that Hansen would be missed.

“A great public servant who always put our Montana students and families first,” Arntzen said.

Hansen was a vocal proponent of school choice, founding Big Sky Scholarships. 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 also 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.

Hansen’s cause of death has not yet been made public.