Saturday, December 30, 2006

Former Kansas attorneys general say Phill Kline's actions are all about politics

By Diane Silver

Nothing but politics prompted outgoing Attorney General Phill Kline to name a special prosecutor in an abortion case. That's the word today from former Kansas Attorneys General Bob Stephan and Carla Stovall Steckline.

To make matters worse, Kline doesn't have a written contract with special prosecutor Donald McKinney. Thus, McKinney's financial arrangement with the state is unclear. Kline has called on McKinney to prosecute Wichita abortion provider George Tiller on misdemeanor charges.

The Wichita Eagle reports:
But former Kansas Attorney General Stephan called McKinney's appointment itself political, saying he could see "no reason at all" for Kline to take such an action.

Stephan, who served as attorney general from 1979 to 1995, and Stovall, who served from 1995 to 2003, said a special prosecutor would be needed only if: the office had a conflict of interest in a case; the office had a manpower issue; or if there was a need for an expert.

For example, both cited the need to hire outside prosecutors when the attorney general's office sued neighboring states over water rights.

In one sense, all of this means nothing because Attorney General-Elect Paul Morrison has already promised that he won't retain McKinney.

However, Kline will soon become the new Johnson County district attorney. Kline's new job puts him in a position to help or hurt the lives of those in the county. It also gives him a platform to continue as an outspoken leader of the religious right in Kansas, or to regroup for a run for another statewide post.

Kline shows little interest in letting go of the Ahab-like obsession that lead Kansas voters to throw him out of office in November. He shows little interest in following basic principles of law or good government.

Kline could do both of those things, fulfill his responsibilities as a public servant and still oppose abortion and everything Tiller does. After a while, one begins to wonder why Kline doesn't do that.

Meanwhile, The Eagle published an interesting editorial on Friday, "Kline's Charges Likely About Ideology."

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