Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
State officials in Kansas have confirmed they will investigate an ethics complaint filed against state Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe for the decision to drop criminal charges against abortion giant Planned Parenthood.
Word of the decision comes from Operation Rescue, which filed the request weeks ago.
The group said it was told by the state Office of the Disciplinary Administrator that the ethics complaints against Schmidt and Howe “have been docketed and will be investigated.”
Operation Rescue Senior Policy Adviser Cheryl Sullenger alleged professional misconduct, because state officials apparently lied to a district court judge in a series of events that resulted in the fraudulent dismissal of 107 criminal charges against Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood in Overland Park.
The Planned Parenthood branch had been charged by former prosecutor Phill Kline in 2007 with conducting illegal late-term abortions and manufacturing evidence to cover crimes. The last of the charges were dismissed in August.
Sullenger had obtained documentation through an open-records act request from Shawnee County Judge Richard Anderson that suggested evidence Howe and Schmidt claimed was destroyed actually still existed months later.
The representations were made when Howe persuaded District Court Judge Stephen Tatum to drop the most serious charges against Planned Parenthood.
The records Sullenger obtained – and submitted with her ethics complaints – show that Howe and Schmidt knew Anderson maintained possession of the evidence.
“We understand that prosecutors have wide authority to determine what cases will be prosecuted, but they do not have the authority to lie to a judge and deceive the public in order to destroy a prosecution, and that is exactly what Schmidt and Howe did,” said Sullenger.
Tim Golba, past state president of Kansans for Life, requested to be added as a complainant in the ethics case against Howe.
“We caught them red-handed engaging in professional misconduct and have the documents to prove it,” said Sullenger. “Right now there is no confidence that our current abortion laws with be enforced. If Schmidt and Howe would go to these lengths to destroy a strong case against Planned Parenthood in which three Kansas judges have ruled probable cause exists to believe crimes were committed, they certainly won’t enforce any other abortion law, leaving the lives of women at risk. Since Schmidt and Howe used deception to justify their refusal to enforce Kansas law, resignation is not only called for, but is necessary to protect women from abortion businesses that break the law,” she said.
WND earlier reported how Operation Rescue officials uncovered records that supposedly were “destroyed” earlier by the state.
The counts against Planned Parenthood, which if convicted could have faced the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funding, allege the group violated a state law that in 2003 limited abortions at or after the 22nd week and also violated records requirements.
In the years since, under other attorneys general and new prosecutors, the charges gradually have been removed from the court.
Then OR reported it discovered, via the Kansas Open Records Act, that the original documentation actually was filed with the Shawnee County Clerk of the Court by Judge Richard Anderson.
“Documents also obtained from the office of Judge Anderson indicate that there was never any formal inquiry about the records from the Planned Parenthood case prosecutor, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe, or from Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor, who was tasked in November 2011 with determining who was responsible for the destruction of the supposed final copy of the records that were the basis for 49 out of 107 total criminal charges against Planned Parenthood, including 28 felonies,” Operation Rescue reported.
That would mean the officials who last winter said the records had been destroyed, apparently never even looked for them.
“This is evidence that proves the 49 charges dismissed in November 2011 at the request of Howe were dropped under false pretenses two months before Anderson moved and sealed the remaining records. It further indicates the possibility the dismissal was the result of a widespread criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice,” OR reported.
Operation Rescue has contended that the records reveal wrongdoing, because they do not match. The allegation is that Planned Parenthood failed to keep the proper records, then tried to manufacture them and insert them into the files after the fact.
“This was strong evidence that Planned Parenthood created the records at a later date and put them into the patient file to make it look like they had been there all along since it is a misdemeanor not to keep a copy of the KDHE form in the patient’s file. In doing so, those records could prove that Planned Parenthood committed a felony to cover up for a misdemeanor,” Operation Rescue said.