Former Kansas Highway Patrol superintendent Mark Bruce is asking the Kansas Supreme Court to let him return to the law enforcement agency where he worked for 30 years and, in an attempt to clear his name with legislators, blames the "debauchery" of other officers for his demise.

Bruce was ousted by Gov. Laura Kelly's administration in March 2019 for his handling of sexual misconduct and domestic violence scandals. Bruce filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking reinstatement as a major, the rank he held when he was appointed superintendent in 2015.

In a letter to lawmakers, Bruce asserts he followed policy and was transparent about his actions as scandals unfolded.

"The impetus behind my departure was based on anonymous emails accusing me of ignoring or failing to act regarding separate incidents of sexual misconduct and domestic violence," Bruce wrote in his letter. "These accusations are faceless and completely false. Sadly and unconscionable, current uniformed officers at multiple levels within the KHP were directly involved in the debauchery that unraveled what had been a spotless career and put an entire agency into a tailspin."

The lawsuit asks for damages in excess of $10,000 for lost compensation, plus attorney fees.

Bruce resigned as superintendent after questions were raised about a December 2018 incident in Excelsior Springs, Mo., and alleged workplace romance between KHP staff.

The petition before the Supreme Court says Bruce made repeated requests with Kelly's administration to return to the position he held before he was promoted to lead the agency, in accordance with state statute.

“We do not comment on pending litigation," said Lauren Fitzgerald, a spokeswoman for the governor. "Mark Bruce voluntarily resigned.”

Emails obtained by The Topeka Capital-Journal through the Kansas Open Records Act revealed controversy roiling within KHP in the months before Bruce and his top deputy, Lt. Col. Randy Moon, were driven out of the agency.

Moon came under scrutiny when Excelsior Springs police officers were called to a hotel and spa, where Moon's girlfriend had sustained injuries to her left elbow and head. By the time police arrived, Moon was gone, but witnesses said the couple had been drinking and Moon "tossed" the woman.

Police dropped the case after a phone interview in which Moon handed the phone to his girlfriend and she recanted statements she made at the hotel that implicated Moon.

A KHP captain who reported directly to Bruce then produced a report clearing Moon of wrongdoing.

In his letter to legislators, Bruce said he kept the investigation inside his agency in part because the relationship between KHP and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation "has been plagued with mistrust."

"I will leave it to you to form your own conclusion as to what actually occurred," Bruce wrote to legislators, "but I have always been completely honest and forthcoming in my interactions with all of you. Perhaps I should just let this go? Unfortunately, I think that is what the typical response and expectation would be. However, those of us who choose to serve and protect are not typical."

Kyle Lord, who was married to KHP general counsel Tammie Lord, engaged Bruce in a back-and-forth series of emails that involved accusations of infidelity and a coverup by Bruce.

Bruce explained to legislators that individuals who were accused of sexual misconduct were counseled about the patrol's expectations of a professional work environment and warned of potential discipline.

"I worked too hard, 30 years, earning a respected and professional reputation not to defend myself," Bruce wrote. "I owe that to the patrol, my family and friends. And not doing so runs counter to my grain and contradicts a pillar of the law enforcement profession's duty to stand up against injustice despite the personal peril it may bring."