by Max Brantley
The court cited "clear and convincing evidence" that Kline committed 11 violations of attorney conduct rules while investigating abortion clinics as attorney general and for his role in a grand jury investigation while serving as Johnson County district attorney.
"Ultimately, we unanimously conclude the weight of the aggravating factors—i.e., Kline's inability or refusal to acknowledge the line between overzealous advocacy and operating within the bounds of the law and his professional obligations; his selfish motives; and his lengthy and substantial pattern of misconduct—weigh more heavily than the mitigating factors and merit his indefinite suspension," the court wrote in its opinion.
The court's findings against Kline, who served as Kansas attorney general from 2003 to 2007, stem from a complaint first filed against him in 2010. As TPM reported at the time, Kline was accused of "dispatching staff to record license plates of women entering George Tiller's abortion clinic, getting records from a motel where patients stayed, and obtaining state medical files under false pretenses, then retaining them after his term as AG was over and repeatedly lying about it in court." These alleged actions occurred during Kline's pursuit of Tiller, who ran Women's Health Care Services in Wichita, Kan., and who was shot to death in 2009.
A Kansas law that allows a relatively small group of citizens to call a grand jury to investigate suspected criminal conduct, intended to help Kansans prosecute powerful politicians who might otherwise never be held accountable, was used against George. He was accused of violating Kansas' late-term abortion laws. He was acquitted. This law was never meant to be used to persecute individuals who were lawfully involved in activities that religious fundamentalists found sinful. I am glad Jehovah's Witnesses never became a major force in this country or physicians providing blood transfusions to dying patients might have come under attack in Kansas.