TOPEKA — Two of the three attorneys reviewing an ethics complaint against former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline made a total of $150 in campaign contributions to candidates who ran against him, campaign finance records show.
One of the attorneys also donated $400 to former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat who appointed four of the Kansas Supreme Court's seven current justices. The court has the final word on whether Kline will be sanctioned over allegations of misconduct while investigating abortion providers.
The three lawyers make up a hearing panel for the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys and will make recommendations to the Supreme Court. They are JoAnn Butaud of Lenexa, Jeffrey Chubb of Independence, and Calvin Karlin of Lawrence.
Campaign finance records show Karlin contributed to Sebelius in 2002 and 2003, then donated a total of $100 in 2005 and 2006 to Paul Morrison, a Democrat who defeated Kline when Kline sought re-election as attorney general.
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Records show Chubb donated $50 to then-state Sen. David Adkins, one of Kline's Republican primary opponents in Kline's successful 2002 race for attorney general.
"The whole thing from the start is very political," Mary Kay Culp, executive director of the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life, said Wednesday.
Kline's legal team declined to discuss its strategy Wednesday. Brian Burgess, a Washington, D.C.-based public relations executive who has often acted as Kline's spokesman, said the disciplinary board is "hopelessly compromised."
"All of them have an ideological agenda, and it's reflected in who they support politically," Burgess said, emphasizing that he was speaking for himself.
Peter Brownlie, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said Kline's allies are trying to divert attention from his unethical behavior.
"It's simply demeaning to those who agree to hear the evidence," Brownlie said.
Ron Keefover, a spokesman for the disciplinary board that appointed the three attorneys, said politics is playing no role. Butaud, Chubb and Karlin referred questions to him.
"I've been watching attorney discipline cases for 30 years, and I've never seen politics enter into any of the hearings, complaints being filed or recommendations to the Supreme Court," Keefover said.
The complaint against Kline accuses him of making false statements and allowing subordinates to mislead the Supreme Court and other officials while investigating the late George Tiller and Planned Parenthood's Overland Park clinic.
A Republican, Kline served as attorney general in 2003-07, then served as Johnson County district attorney in 2007-09.
The complaint against Kline was filed by disciplinary board officials and made public Tuesday. The three attorneys are scheduled to have a hearing May 26-28.