Topeka Gov. Kathleen Sebelius appointed a Lawrence consultant and former bandmate of Sebelius' husband to the Kansas Corporation Commission, the agency that regulates telecommunications, trucking and utility services.
Mike Moffet's resume states that he has worked the past six years for the Texas-based Public Strategies Inc., providing legislative and regulatory affairs advice to SBC in Kansas.
But Moffet and Sebelius were quick on Friday to say that despite Moffet's work for the phone company, he would be an impartial commissioner.
"The commission has to be fair and balanced in its approach to the regulated industries," Moffet said. "Above all, of course, the commission needs to protect the consumer ... but at the same time, I think the commission also has to look at the impact that its regulations have on industries."
Sebelius said, "Mike understands fully the goal is to protect the consumers of Kansas and that means a competitive market and level playing field."
Mark Caplinger, executive director of the State Independent Telephone Association of Kansas, said he knew and respected Moffet and was confident he would be a fair commissioner.
"I know the governor and trust her judgment," Caplinger said.
The three-member KCC also regulates the energy industry and trucking.
Moffet, 53, was something of a surprise selection out of at least two dozen candidates for the job.
Before joining Public Strategies Inc., he served in various capacities at the Federal Aviation Administration and as counsel and legislative assistant in Congress, including working on the staff of former U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker of Kansas.
Moffet will face a confirmation hearing Wednesday before a Senate committee for the job that pays about $110,000 a year.
Moffet is a Norton native and boyhood friend of Sebelius' husband, Gary Sebelius, who is now a federal judge.
As teenagers, Moffet said, he and Gary Sebelius were members of a rock 'n' roll band called the Ascot Five.
Moffet will replace John Wine, who has served on the KCC since 1996.
The two other commissioners are Brian Moline and Robert Krehbiel. They are both Democrats, and under state law, Sebelius, also a Democrat, had to appoint someone other than a Democrat. Moffet said he was a Republican.
Moffet is a graduate of Kansas University with a degree in journalism. He obtained his law degree from KU in 1975.