As I reported last week, the abortion industry has waged a multi-pronged, multi-million dollar campaign to rid itself of the one prosecutor in America who dared to file criminal charges against Planned Parenthood.
That would be Phill Kline, formerly the attorney general of Kansas and the district attorney of the state’s most populous county. Now a Virginia law professor, Kline returns to Kansas next week to defend himself against a variety of spurious ethics charges.
In the spring of 2008, the campaign against Kline almost came undone. At the time, Kline was running for re-election as district attorney of Johnson County. In 2006, the abortion industry had spent some $2 million to defeat him in his re-election bid as attorney general.
To make this possible, Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius had persuaded popular Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison to switch parties and run against Kline as a Democrat. Morrison won.
In a nice little twist, Republican precinct captains voted for Kline to fill Morrison’s half-expired term. In 2008, Kline was running to be re-elected DA on his own terms.
If successful, he would have prosecuted the local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic on the 23 felony counts related to late-term abortions that he had brought against the organization.
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Hanging over Kline’s re-election bid as DA was an ethics cloud that had wafted upwards from the offices of Planned Parenthood’s attorneys. True to form, the local media gleefully predicted stormy days ahead for Kline.
Unknown to Kline, the two attorneys that had been assigned to investigate his ethics case 18 months earlier had reported back to the disciplinary administrator appointed by the Kansas Supreme Court to oversee such matters, Stanton Hazlett by name.
The report was filed on May 22, 2008, 10 weeks before the August Republican primary. Authoring the report was the chair of the Topeka Bar Association ethics committee, a fellow with the only-in-Kansas name Lucky DeFreis.
DeFries and his colleague could not have been more definitive in their findings. “After reviewing the substantial documentation in this case,” they wrote, “it is the opinion of these investigators that there is not probable cause to prove that Phill Kline violated any of the rules of ethics.”
The report addressed each of the charges that had been brought against Kline in his role as attorney general. It cited Judge Richard Anderson to the effect that “at all times, the attorney general’s officers have acknowledged that the privacy interests of patients should be protected.”
The judge also acknowledged that Kline stood “on firm legal ground in advancing his theory that the clinics have failed to comply” with appropriate Kansas laws.
The report found that Kline did not violate the Court’s nondisclosure order because his accusers already had gone public when they filed their public briefs.
What is more, the information Kline provided offered “no specific references to patient identities or any medical facts concerning any identified patient.”
“This Complaint arises from strenuous legal battles between opposing counsel and was complicated by a very hotly-contested political race,” summarized the reporting attorneys accurately.
Kline did not learn of this exoneration for nearly two more years, and only then by accident. Equally unaware – one hopes – the Kansas City Star continued to pound away on Kline in 2008 as an overzealous “theocrat” keen on revealing women’s medical records.
In 2006, the Star had won the “Maggie” – named for Planned Parentood’s eugenicist founder, Margaret Sanger – for its unhinged efforts to unseat “anti-choice extremist” Kline. This was the organization’s top national honor. In 2008, Star editors showed again why they deserved it.
Undeterred by the facts, the media chipped away at Kline’s reputation and assured his defeat in the August primary to Steve Howe, a tepidly pro-life career prosecutor who would be elected district attorney in November.
To find out why the Kansas courts did not inform Kline of his exoneration in 2008 when it mattered, I called the office of the disciplinary administrator. On the positive side, a real person answered the phone on the first ring. Ah, Kansas!
On the not-so-positive side, this woman referred me to the spokesman for the disciplinary administrator. When I asked Ron Keefover why the Court had not made Kline aware of the DeFreis report, he began his answer with the thoroughly unenlightening, “My guess would be.”
In fact, Keefover had not heard of the DeFreis report. Nor could he give me a satisfactory answer as to why the disciplinary administrator chose to file new charges. His best guess would be “new allegations.”
It should be noted that the disciplinary administrator reports to the Kansas Supreme Court, most of whose justices were appointed by Kathleen Sebelius without any legislative confirmation.
What everyone understands is that it will be hard for an already reluctant Howe to continue the case against Planned Parenthood if its original architect, Phill Kline, is judged guilty during his upcoming ethics hearings.
But then again, that seems to be the plan.