The Kansas Supreme Court found that Phill Kline committed ethics violations while investigating Planned Parenthood and the murdered Dr. George Tiller.
In a 154-page decision last week, the Kansas Supreme Court indefinitely suspended the law license of former state Attorney General Phill Kline for professional misconduct while investigating abortion clinics from 2003 to 2008.
The court found that Kline committed at least 11 ethics violations while investigating abortion provider Dr. George Tiller as well as Planned Parenthood clinics throughout the state while serving as the state’s Attorney General and the Johnson County District Attorney. Tiller was murdered by an anti-abortion activist in 2009.
“The violations we have found are significant and numerous, and Kline’s inability or refusal to acknowledge or address their significance is particularly troubling in light of his service as the chief prosecuting attorney for this state and its most populous county,” the court wrote.
The court also said that Kline violated the rules of professional conduct when he appeared on FOX’s “The O’Reilly Factor” days before the November 2006 election, to discuss his investigation of Tiller.
Thomas Condit, who is representing Kline in this case, said the court’s decision to suspend Kline’s license was based on prosecutors “cherry picking” oral and written comments over a period of many years to help their case, sometimes even taking things out of context.
Condit said that Kline was never deliberately dishonest about his actions and that he and Kline were reviewing the ruling and considering what their options are for next steps.
Kline will have to wait three years if he wants to reinstate his Kansas law license. The court said three aggravating factors led to Kline’s indefinite suspension, including selfish motive, a pattern of misconduct and refusal to acknowledge any wrongdoing.
Kline is currently working at Liberty University in Virginia as an assistant professor of law.
According to Kline’s bio on the Renew America website — which describes itself as a nonpartisan and non-denominational grassroots organization that believes in preserving the United States by faithfully following and upholding the U.S. Constitution as written — Kline is the only Attorney General or prosecutor who was able to obtain abortion records and formally charge both Tiller and Planned Parenthood.
During his investigation, Kline was able to obtain medical records of former patients who went to Planned Parenthood and one of Tiller’s clinics to prove his case.
The case against Kline first began in 2010 when complaints were filed against him by Tiller’s attorney and the forewoman of a Johnson County grand jury who was asked to investigate Planned Parenthood. The complaint alleged that Kline had intentionally misled judges and mishandled evidence in order to further his investigations into abortion clinics.
The 107 criminal charges Kline filed against a Planned Parenthood clinic in the state for performing illegal abortions, covering for pedophiles by not reporting pregnancies of underage girls and falsifying records were later dropped by current Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe. The last charge was dropped in August 2012.
Thirty charges Kline filed against Tiller for performing late-term abortions were dismissed because of jurisdictional reasons. The clinic in which the late-term abortions were allegedly occurring was not in Johnson County.
Peter Brownlie is the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. He issued a written statement last week after the court’s ruling was released, expressing gratitude that Kline had been held accountable for his “egregious misconduct.”
“Planned Parenthood said throughout this long ordeal Mr. Kline was pursuing a political witch hunt based on his ideological and political views, not the law,” Brownlie said. “Today’s unanimous decision confirms we were right.”
The Kansas City Star editorial staff wrote a piece this week saying that Kline “violated the trust of his client — the public — and tarnished the legal profession. He knowingly broke rules and acted dishonestly.”
While the editorial board recognized that the court’s decision to remove Kline from office for abusing his authority to further his “crusade against legal abortion providers,” they pointed out that Kline’s supporters still view him as the “victim of a vast liberal conspiracy,” even though “he violated patients’ privacy, mishandled sensitive medical records and misled a citizens’ grand jury.”
The board summed up their piece by writing that “Kline’s story, concluding with the suspension of his license, is a chilling reminder of how power can be misused by a politician committed to an agenda at the expense of public trust. It is a lesson that Kansas cannot afford to forget.”
But not everyone agrees that Kline’s punishment fit his crime, mostly because they believe he did nothing wrong.
Some, such as Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, argued that the state’s Supreme Court is “stacked with appointees” of the state’s former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D), who he says “is a radical supporter of unrestricted abortion for any reason throughout all nine months of pregnancy.”
Sebelius is currently U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.
“The Sebelius-Era vendetta against Kline for daring to uphold Kansas abortion and child sex abuse laws has finally extracted its pound of flesh,” Newman said.
“Contrary to the Court’s ruling, we know Kline to be a selfless man who has dedicated his life in the pursuit of justice. Sometimes, that honesty and integrity comes at a price, and Kline has certainly paid a heavy penalty for standing up to a corrupt administration that went to great lengths to insulate Kansas abortionists from being brought to justice.”
“We pray that Phill Kline and his family will seek comfort in their strong Christian faith during this time of political persecution as well as support among his many loyal friends and family members,” continued Newman. “We stand behind Phill and against the shameful, corrupt abortion politics that have crushed his career for the purpose of ensuring that the innocent blood of babies will continue to spill in Kansas.”
He went on to say, “If a man believes himself to be innocent and has evidence he believes proves his innocence, as was the case with Kline, it seems shocking that the Court would attack him simply for maintaining his rights to a defense.
“This case has always been about teaching a lesson to Kline and other prosecutors who might entertain the possibility of trying to enforce the law against abortion providers. It is meant to have a chilling effect on law enforcement everywhere. Now we can expect that women will be further endangered by criminal abortionists while intimidated prosecutors look the other way in order to protect their own political careers. This is disgraceful and the Supreme Court and Disciplinary Administrator who prosecuted Kline should be ashamed today.”