Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison, a Republican-turned-Democrat who was supported by abortion advocates in Kansas in his campaign to defeat pro-life former Attorney General Phill Kline, is quitting over a sex-and-political-influence scandal that now has triggered a decision to hire a special prosecutor.
“He’s out,” trumpeted a statement in the Kansas City Star.
The newspaper said Morrison read a statement this afternoon confirming he’ll “resign on Jan. 31 in the wake of a sex scandal involving a former employee in the Johnson County district attorney’s office.”
“Many people feel betrayed by my actions, and they have every right to feel that way,” Morrison read.
He took no questions and left as soon as he finished reading the statement.
“Because of my actions in my personal life, many people stopped believing in me,” Morrison said. “The truth ultimately will come out.”
Morrison announced his resignation less than a week after reports in the Topeka Capital-Journal revealed he had carried on an affair with a former administrator in the Johnson County district attorney’s office for two years.
Linda Carter disrupted Morrison’s political tenure by filing a sex harassment complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and alleging that among other things, Morrison, after he moved from the county office to the state position, tried to have her spy on a developing criminal investigation involving the Planned Parenthood in Johnson County.
Supported by publicity generated by a group sharing the address of an abortion’s own political action group, Morrison had defeated Kline in the campaign for the AG’s spot in 2006, and took over in early 2007. He promptly fired a special prosecutor hired by Kline to carry forward on a criminal case against Wichita late-term abortionist George Tiller, and dismissed the 30 counts Kline filed, replacing them with lesser counts.
However, since Morrison converted from Republican to Democrat for the statewide race, when he left the DA’s office in Johnson County, Republicans had the privilege of replacing him, and they picked Kline.
Kline continued to work with investigative files he had subpoenaed as attorney general, and recently filed 107 criminal charges against Planned Parenthood, which is in Johnson County and thus still remained under his jurisdiction.
Kline now has confirmed he’ll get $25,000 from the Johnson County commissioners to hire a special prosecutor to investigate what he told the Kansas City Star were allegations including blackmail and telephone harassment.
“I hope to God these allegations are not true,” Commissioner Doug Wood told the newspaper. “It saddens me that this situation exists.”
Morrison was facing opposition even from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a well-known advocate for abortion rights. In a statement, she said she “believes the people of Kansas deserve to know the truth about these allegations and welcomes an independent review.”
Carter’s EEOC complaint, which will be investigated separately from any investigation pending in Johnson County, alleged Morrison “prodded” her during their affair to reveal insider information regarding Kline’s investigation into the Johnson County Planned Parenthood business for alleged abortion law violations.
Carter worked in the Johnson County office while Morrison held the office, then continued to work there later, when Kline was appointed.
A grand jury now is reviewing the case against Planned Parenthood, in which Kline filed 107 counts, including 23 felonies.
Leaders at the pro-life Operation Rescue earlier called for Morrison to leave.
“This is not just about sex and abortion,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “This is about corruption manifested in the perverted use of sex and power for political advantage.
“Morrison’s obsessive desire to derail Kline’s investigations through the sleaziest of means indicates not only critically impaired judgment, but conduct that is absolutely unethical, immoral, and intolerable for a state’s ‘Top Cop.’ The integrity of the office has been destroyed,” Newman said.
“Operation Rescue has long questioned Morrison’s ability [to] uphold Kansas abortion laws, and has in the past called for him to step down. Now, in light of this new sex and abortion corruption scandal, we renew our demand for his immediate resignation,” Newman said.
Morrison, in fact, had joined Planned Parenthood in a court filing opposing Kline’s investigation.
“To further illustrate Morrison’s fixation over shielding Planned Parenthood, Morrison joined on their side in a sealed mandamus action before the Kansas Supreme Court,” OR said in its statement. “The abortion clinic’s suit against Kline involves abortion records, which are the basis for the current criminal charges.”
Kline, as attorney general, had wondered how dozens of abortions could be done on girls as young as 11 or 12, with not a single count of sexual assault on a child being pursued in Kansas. He also wondered whether abortion providers were following state law, especially on late-term abortions.
Planned Parenthood and Tiller used court maneuvers to battle Kline’s subpoena for their records, and Kline actually got the redacted records only weeks before he turned over the office to Morrison following the 2006 election.
Kline quickly filed a series of 30 charges against Tiller, and turned the case over to an independent prosecutor, but the prosecutor was fired and the Tiller charges dismissed when Morrison took office.
Morrison later filed a substitute case involve 19 lesser charges against Tiller, based on the records Kline obtained.
Operation Rescue noted the Carter case was not the first time allegations of sexual misconduct had been leveled against Morrison, either.
“We have to wonder, given Morrison’s pattern of sexual indiscretions, if there isn’t a receipt at these abortion clinics with his name on it that he didn’t want discovered by political rivals. That would certainly explain his willingness to go to any lengths to derail the investigations,” Newman said.
The Topeka newspaper said it learned the relationship began in 2005 and wasn’t ended until 2007. In Carter’s statement, she said Morrison repeatedly tried to get from her sensitive information about Kline’s activities regarding Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.
The Topeka newspaper reported Carter also said she had urged Morrison to charge Tiller, but the two argued over the case and the argument ended with Morrison storming out of Carter’s apartment.
Carter’s statement said Morrison regularly questioned her throughout 2007 about progress by Kline’s staff in the Planned Parenthood investigation.
The grand jury now hearing the Planned Parenthood case was ordered after a coalition of abortion opponents used a 1970 law that allows the public to petition for an investigation. A separate grand jury is hearing evidence in the case involving Tiller.
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