TOPEKA — Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline's supporters accuse the state official pursuing a professional ethics complaint against Kline of concealing for months an investigators' report highly favorable to Kline.
State Disciplinary Administrator Stanton Hazlett said Wednesday that the allegation is ludicrous, adding, "It's absolutely not true."
Kline has repeatedly cited the May 2008 report in his testimony before a three-member panel of the state Board for Discipline of Attorneys.
The panel was in its third day of hearings Wednesday on a complaint alleging that Kline misled state officials and mishandled patients' medical records while investigating abortion clinics when he was attorney general from 2003 to 2007 and Johnson County district attorney from 2007 to 2009.
The report was prepared by two attorneys investigating Kline's conduct for Hazlett's office. It reviewed allegations from attorneys for the abortion clinics and concluded there was no probable cause to believe Kline violated ethics rules.
Some of the same allegations appeared in the ethics complaint Hazlett filed against Kline last year.
Kline said in an interview that Hazlett should have disclosed the report to him. Instead, he didn't learn about it until January 2010. The report was among documents provided to attorneys for a former top deputy who had faced an ethics complaint that resulted in an informal admonition. The report has been public since.
Thomas Brejcha, president of the Chicago-based anti-abortion law firm the Thomas More Society, suggested Hazlett's office "ignored" the report as part of an apparent "political vendetta."
Kline said of Hazlett, "He's not applying the rules to himself the way he's applying them to me."
Hazlett said the report was among 30,000 pages of documents provided to several teams of attorneys who've represented Kline, including his present lawyers.
Hazlett said Kline could have had access to the attorneys who wrote the favorable report.
Kline said it would have helped him to have had the May 2008 investigators' report before his primary election that year, which he lost.
And, he noted, in legal proceedings, "It's common practice to share."
The two attorneys who prepared the report for Hazlett's office are listed as witnesses in Kline's ethics hearing.
Their report dealt with accusations that it was improper for Kline to appear on the TV show "The O'Reilly Factor" shortly before the November 2006 election. Host Bill O'Reilly referred to Wichita abortion provider George Tiller as "Tiller the Baby Killer." The report also dealt with allegations that Kline made misleading statements about his activities.
Kline, who has vigorously disputed those allegations, said the report shows the ethics case against him should never have been pursued. The panel hearing Kline's case will recommend to the state Supreme Court what, if any, sanctions he should face.
The report doesn't deal with most of the allegations Hazlett's complaint makes about the handling of patient records by Kline and his former staffers. Nor does it cover an allegation that Kline once made a false statement to the disciplinary administrator's office.
Kline has said in his testimony that the last allegation is so vague and unclear that he doesn't know how to respond to it.