Governor Laura Kelly today announced the departure of Chief Counsel Clay Britton, and Justin Whitten as new Chief Counsel to the Office. Britton will become Vice President and General Counsel at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas.
“Clay has been a valuable resource to my administration since day one,” Governor Kelly said. “During the pandemic, he played an integral role in our efforts to keep Kansans safe and healthy. I know he will continue to serve Kansas well in his new position, and I wish him the best as he takes the next step in his career.”
Britton has served as Chief Counsel since Governor Kelly took office in 2019, advising the Governor and her administration on a variety of legal issues affecting the executive branch – including all emergency response measures taken throughout the pandemic. In April 2020, Britton argued the first-ever Zoom oral argument at the Kansas Supreme Court. Additionally, during his time in the Governor’s office, Britton oversaw the appointments of 34 state court judges, including 3 Kansas Supreme Court Justices and 4 Court of Appeals Judges.
“It has been the honor of my professional life to work for Governor Kelly,” said Clay Britton. “I leave incredibly proud of the small role I have been able to play in helping this administration get our state back on track. At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, I will continue working on issues that are critical to Kansans. While I’m sad to leave my friends and colleagues in the Governor’s Office, I could not be more excited to meet a new set of challenges and opportunities at BCBSKS.”
Before joining the Office of Governor Laura Kelly, Britton was an Assistant United States Attorney in Kansas City. Britton also worked in private practice with Lathrop & Gage LLP and was a prosecutor in the Kansas Attorney General’s Office from 2009 to 2011. Britton graduated Order of the Coif from the University of Kansas School of Law in 2008 and earned degrees in political science and history from the University of Kansas in 2004.
Justin Whitten, who has been chosen as new Chief Counsel to Governor Laura Kelly’s Office, has worked as Chief Counsel at the Kansas Department of Labor since March 2019, providing legal counsel to the Secretary of Labor regarding ongoing litigation and operations of KDOL. During that time he oversaw the Legal Division, the Employment Standards Division, and the Special Investigation Division. From March through June of 2020, he worked with Britton in reviewing, drafting, and defending executive orders issued to protect Kansas communities from the threat of COVID-19.
Before joining KDOL, Whitten worked both as an Honors Attorney and a Trial Attorney for the United States Department of Labor. He graduated Order of the Coif from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2012. Whitten lives in Lawrence with his wife, Kelly, two young sons, and their beagle Annie.
“Through his extensive work at the United States and the Kansas Departments of Labor, Justin has gained the experience needed to excel in his new position – and he worked closely with Clay during the pandemic to protect Kansans from COVID-19,” Governor Kelly said. “I am confident he will hit the ground running, continuing and adding to the work he started at KDOL to support and strengthen Kansas communities. He will be an excellent addition to the team.”