Crime & Courts

Kline lawsuits cost state $748,659

TOPEKA — Lawsuits filed against the administrations of Phill Kline while he served as attorney general and Johnson County district attorney have cost the state of Kansas $748,659 in legal fees and expenses.

The total includes nearly $220,000 through mid-February to defend Kline's Johnson County District Attorney's administration from a lawsuit alleging sexual discrimination. Senior prosecutor Jacqie Spradling alleged that she was fired from the office in retaliation for her complaints of sexual discrimination.

The Spradling case cost $219,172 in fees and expenses, according to records from the attorney general's office.

Other legal fees paid by the state to defend Kline administrations include $403,528 in an ongoing ethics case before the Board for Discipline of Attorneys and $125,959 to defend Kline aides Eric Rucker and Stephen Maxwell in their ethics cases.

Rucker and Maxwell worked in the Kline administrations while he was attorney general and district attorney.

In the Spradling case, attorneys hired by the state have denied any sexual discrimination or retaliation against Spradling. Her dismissal was a "legitimate business decision" according to attorneys with Holbrook and Osborn in Overland Park. That firm also is representing Kline in the ethics case.

Kansas law requires the attorney general to provide a defense and the state to pay legal fees for state officials and employees who are defendants in lawsuits based on the Kansas Tort Claims Act. Employees who lose lawsuits don't have to pay back the attorney fees to the state.

Spradling is represented by private attorneys is "not under the provisions of the Kansas Tort Claims Act," assistant attorney general Lisa A. Mendoza said.

Spradling now is the Shawnee County chief deputy district attorney prosecuting homicides and other serious offenses.

A disciplinary panel heard testimony for eight days in February and March tied to Kline's handling of investigations of abortion providers in Kansas. A four-day hearing will start on July 19 on the second count, in which the disciplinary administrator's office alleges Kline misled a Johnson County grand jury investigating an abortion clinic. The ethics panel won't decide either allegation until the entire case is over.

Kline currently is a visiting professor of law at the Liberty University law school in Lynchburg, Va.