TOPEKA — Kansas' former deputy attorney general acknowledged Thursday what his attorney called "technical" violations of state ethics rules arising from investigations of abortion providers.
Eric Rucker faced questions about his actions during inquiries leading to criminal charges against the late George Tiller of Wichita and a Planned Parenthood clinic in Overland Park. Tiller was acquitted of violating restrictions on late-term abortions, while Planned Parenthood hasn't yet gone to trial over allegations it performed illegal abortions and falsified records.
The professional misconduct case against Rucker narrowed significantly Thursday. The state's attorney disciplinary administrator agreed to seek at most a public censure of him.
Rucker agreed to testify if called during an ethics hearing scheduled in November for former Attorney General Phill Kline. Rucker was Kline's chief deputy when Kline was attorney general in 2003-07 and again when Kline served as Johnson County district attorney in 2007-08.
Rucker and the disciplinary administrator's office presented their agreement to a three-member panel of the state Board for Discipline of Attorneys at the start of a hearing Thursday. The panel will recommend to the Supreme Court whether Rucker should be sanctioned.
Rucker originally faced allegations of making false statements to others — including the Supreme Court — to further investigations of abortion providers. Rucker denied misleading others and in the agreement said his violations of ethics rules "did not involve any dishonest conduct."
"Not a single allegation from the original complaint remains," Rucker's attorney Caleb Stegall told the panel.
Disciplinary Administrator Stan Hazlett declined to respond to Stegall's comments.
The issues in Rucker's case now center on whether he should have clarified or checked the accuracy of statements to others about the abortion investigations.
Tiller, one of the few doctors in the nation who provided late-term abortions, was acquitted in 2009 of misdemeanor charges filed by Kline's successor as attorney general. That was just weeks before Tiller was shot and killed by an anti- abortion activist.
A criminal case filed by Kline as Johnson County district attorney against the Planned Parenthood clinic is still pending, but is tied up with legal issues before the Supreme Court.