TOPEKA The Kansas Supreme Court today suspended the law license of Chris Miller, a Lawrence attorney and Republican Party activist, for two years for overbilling the Kansas Insurance Department.
The dispute started in 1995 when newly elected Kansas Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Sebelius refused to pay a bill from Miller for $375,900 that he said he was owed for representing the department in workers' compensation cases. Sebelius is now governor.
When Sebelius said the fees were unjustified. Miller sued, alleging Sebelius was striking back at him politically because Miller had worked to get re-elected the incumbent, Republican Ron Todd, the commissioner that Sebelius defeated in the 1994 election.
Sebelius filed a counterclaim that the state had overpaid Miller. Shortly after Sebelius was elected governor in 2002, both sides agreed to dismiss the claims against each other.
But Miller was then brought before the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys over the billing issue.
That board found that Miller routinely billed the insurance department for expenses that he shouldn't have.
Neither Miller nor his attorney, Nancy Roe of Kansas City, Kan. could be immediately reached for comment, but court documents said that Miller agreed that he charged the insurance department unreasonable fees and "disguised overhead expenses as compensable items."
But instead of suspending Miller's license, the board recommended that he be placed on probation to practice law.
But the Supreme Court disagreed, going with the tougher punishment for what it described as "egregious conduct."
The court said Miller's two-year license suspension was appropriate "although the imposition of a more severe discipline could be justified."
Miller has served as chairman of the GOP of Douglas County. His term ended in 2004.