Topeka Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' chief of staff, who faced criticism along with the Kansas Supreme Court because she's married to a justice, announced her resignation Friday.
But Joyce Allegrucci, 62, said her departure from the Democratic administration had nothing to do with conservative Republican complaints that her position created a conflict of interest for her husband, Donald, as the court considered a school finance lawsuit.
Any link between her and the court's decisions existed "only in their minds," she said. "Our jobs aren't married in any way."
Sebelius said former Rep. Troy Findley, of Lawrence, will replace Allegrucci. He has served as Sebelius' legislative liaison and begins his new job Monday.
As for her departure, Allegrucci said: "I have been working about 20 hours a day for two-and-a-half years. I'm going to take a little break."
Allegrucci is a longtime Sebelius friend and there's some speculation she might manage the governor's expected re-election campaign next year. She was Sebelius' campaign manager in 2002.
Conservative Republicans targeted Allegrucci for criticism, especially during the special session when they complained the court stepped over the separation-of-powers line. They made a failed attempt to pass a proposed constitutional amendment that would have cut into the court's power.
During the special session, Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe, tried to rewrite a bill to say any executive branch employee couldn't be paid if a family member worked for any branch of the judiciary. He withdrew the proposal, but said there needed to be a debate "on the perception of nepotism."
Moderate Republicans reject the argument.
"There's no conflict of interest, absolutely none," said Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood. "Many people don't understand what conflict of interest is. They perceive it as any situation they don't like."
He said Allegrucci wasn't involved in the school finance discussions between legislative leaders and the governor's office during the special session.
"The governor rightfully didn't want to give anybody the opportunity to make an allegation," Vratil said.
Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, called Allegrucci's departure a loss of a "talented staff member," but noted the governor won't have to deal with the criticism of her staff being too close to the court in a re-election year.
After managing the governor's campaign, Allegrucci became Sebelius' appointments secretary, but soon was named chief of staff. Before joining the Sebelius campaign, she was assistant secretary for child and family services at the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.
Donald Allegrucci, 68, was named to the Supreme Court in 1987. Before joining the court, he worked as a lawyer, was a state senator and a district judge.