A disciplinary panel Thursday rebuked a former Kansas attorney general over his pattern of misconduct during investigations into abortion providers, including a murdered doctor, George Tiller.
In a 184-page report, the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys recommended that the state's former top lawyer, Phill Kline, be suspended indefinitely from practicing law in the state. The Kansas Supreme Court must approve the recommendation.
Kline's conduct was motivated by dishonesty and selfishness, the report said. [Kline] repeatedly attached confidential or sealed documents to public pleadings. [Kline] repeatedly provided false or deceptive information to courts and counsel.
The report states that he also misled state officials about the nature of his investigations, also allowing his staff to do the same. He was even accused of misleading the three-person panel handling his misconduct case.
Kline, now a law professor at the conservative Liberty University, however, told the panel that he has no intention of practicing in Kansas again and has let his law license in the state lapse.
Kline Says Proceeding Politically Motivated
In a statement, Kline on Thursday said the proceedings were politically motivated and defended his actions in investigating abortion providers.
My 'mistake' was my willingness to investigate politically powerful people and to let that investigation go where the evidence led, Kline said.
Kline, a Republican, served as Kansas attorney general from 2003 to 2007, when he was defeated for reelection. Afterwards, he became a district attorney for Johnson County, in the northeastern part of the state before taking his job at Liberty University.
For Kline's investigation of Tiller, the Wichita abortion provider murdered while attending church services, the attorney general was accused of lying about his search for the identities of underage patients, not adults.
To get their identities, the office subpoenaed and reviewed a guest list from a hotel near Tiller's clinic, the report said.
Statements made by [Kline] under oath, that his office never sought to identify the names of adult abortion patients are false, the report said.
Redacted patient medical files from the investigation were also mishandled, counter to Kline's contention that they were under lock and key, the report said. There was also a five-week period in which the patient medical records were kept in a Rubbermaid container, the report said.
Kline's 2006 appearance on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor to discuss the Tiller investigation--right before his ultimately unsuccessful reelection campaign--was also criticized in the report.
Bill O'Reilly was a staunch critic of Tiller, making the doctor a cause célèbre among conservatives and anti-abortion activists.
The statements made by [Kline] on The O'Reilly Factor did not serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, the report said. These statements had a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of Dr. Tiller.