The race for Kansas attorney general was expected to be close, but I doubt if anyone thought it was going to get as personal and wild as it has. Today's latest:
--> A nonpartisan legal watchdog group has officially filed a complaint with the IRS, saying that Attorney General Phill Kline's church-based fundraising violates at least two churches' tax-exempt status. The key legal point: In a memo he wrote outlining his church strategy, Kline named two churches as having done a "lit drop" for him, and told his staff to arrange church events and other literature drops. To keep their tax exempt status, churches cannot advocate or work for political candidates.
--> Kelly Summerlin -- the woman at the center of a 15-year-old unproven and twice dismissed complaint against Democratic candidate Paul Morrison -- met with reporters in interviews set up by the Kline campaign. The upshot? Although Summerlin says she stands by her sexual harassment accusation, Summerlin proved there was no settlement of the case. Kline's campaign keeps claiming the case was settled. Summerlin said she did not receive a cent from Morrison.
Summerlin has since married and changed her name. The interviews were set up on the condition that journalists refrain from using her married name and showing her face. Thus, she gets to smear Morrison, while protecting her current identity. The Topeka Capital-Journal has a detailed interview with Summerlin that provides the most pro-Kline, anti-Morrison view of the incident.
--> Declaring that pulling a commercial is just politics as usual, an out-of-state group has cancelled broadcast of an anti-Morrison TV ad. The controversial ad said that Morrison and Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius were on opposite sides of a 2003 crime bill, when in fact, they both supported the final bill.
--> Describing yet another ad by Kline as "underhanded" and "downright shameful," a Kansas Republican organization has called on Kline to pull the commercial. This ad attempts to smear Morrison with the Summerlin complaint by portraying unproven accusations as reality and engages in a little play acting to do it. One of the most important Republican leaders in the state -- Senate President Steve Morris -- also told reporters that the ad should be pulled.
* Meanwhile, anti-Kline mailings were linked to Dr. George Tiller, a Wichita doctor who does abortions. The group doing the mailing, which is not connected to Morrison, should have been clearer about its identity, but I don't see how this is big news. Everyone knows Tiller opposes Kline.
Today's money quote comes from the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, the group that has filed the complaint with the IRS. Speaking about Kline, the executive director said:
"This is the top law enforcement official in the state who is encouraging everyone to break the law," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group. "He's either abysmally unfamiliar with the law, or he's deliberately violating it."