Kansans for Justice asked Phill Kline for his perspective on these claims. His comments are provided below.
“Corruption is like a ball of snow, once it’s set a rolling it must increase.” - Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832)
In November, 2002 I was elected Kansas’s 41st Attorney General. My campaign for Attorney General stressed the need to strengthen Kansas penalties for child molestation and investigations and prosecutions of child molesters.
I defeated moderate/liberal Republican State Senator David Adkins in the Republican primary and Geary County Prosecutor Chris Biggs in the general election. Both Adkins and Biggs are pro-choice and both of their campaigns were extensively funded by Kansas late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.
I was known to be pro-life. In the last weeks of the general election, Dr. Tiller independently spent more than $150,000 on negative radio ads about me. At the time, his buy represented the largest independent expenditure on behalf of a single Attorneys General candidate in Kansas history. My entire general election campaign budget was $300,000.
Abortion was not a primary issued during the election. It was, nevertheless, an issue. Dr. Tiller was one of the world’s premiere late-term abortion providers. Women from around the world travelled to Kansas to have abortions late in their pregnancy at a time when other doctors refused such services.
Needless to say, Dr. Tiller’s practice was controversial. Yet it was not merely the abortion issue that gave rise to such controversy. Dr. Tiller openly flaunted Kansas law, and for years those charged with enforcing the law looked the other way.
For example, at one time Kansas law only allowed a late-term abortion on a viable unborn child if the mother’s life was in jeopardy or the physician found that that the fetus suffered a “severe fetal anomaly.” Dr. Tiller was open about the fact that he considered a severe fetal anomaly to include cleft pallet and Down’s syndrome. Dr. Tiller’s definition of “severe fetal anomaly” was so broad that the exception swallowed the rule, allowing abortion on demand up to the moment of birth in clear defiance of Kansas law.
Here’s is a link to audio of Dr. Tiller speaking to an abortion provider conference in 1995. You will hear Dr. Tiller admit to performing 10,000 abortions over the past five years, while only 800 of those abortions involved “fetal anomalies between 26-36 weeks.”
This comment shockingly admits thousands of illegal abortions. Perhaps Dr. Tiller had an explanation of why he would characterize his numerous late-term abortions as only involving, at most, a “fetal anomaly,” while at the same time he was representing to the State of Kansas that all of these late-term abortions involved a “severe fetal anomaly.” Regardless of the lack of explanation, this statement provided sufficient information to launch an investigation. Yet no one investigated.
Moreover, this information along with other statements by Dr. Tiller and public statements by his former patients provided compelling reason to take a closer look at his abortion practice.
During the 2002 election, the information just mentioned was widely known and understood by those interested in the abortion issue. Accordingly, the candidates for Attorney General were repeatedly asked what action, if any, they would take as Attorney General to ensure Kansas restrictions on late-term abortion were enforced. Kansas law allowed abortion on demand up to the moment of viability – generally 23-24 weeks into pregnancy. Those abortions were allowed without restrictions. Many voters, however, wanted to know if any action would be taken to enforce the late-term prohibitions.
Both of my opponents defended Dr. Tiller. I stated that I would enforce the law. These positions prompted Dr. Tiller to invest heavily in the campaigns, and resulted in my endorsement by pro-life groups and the support afforded my opponents by pro-choice organizations.
Kansas Laws to Protect Children
During the campaign I proposed several changes to Kansas law in order to strengthen our safety net for children. Kansas was not actively investigating online child predators. Kansas law had several weaknesses, including the fact that conspiring to promote child prostitution and the possession of child pornography could result in mere probation. Penalties for child rape were generally weak.
I promised, if elected, to strengthen these laws and to lead a multi-jurisdictional effort to crack down on child sexual exploitation.
Kansas law at the time also required physicians, nurses, counselors and teachers to report child sexual molestation if they had reason to suspect the child was “injured” due to the molestation. As a candidate, I believed this law was being followed. I could not comprehend why someone would not report such abuse. Once I became Attorney General, however, I learned otherwise.
The Genesis of an InvestigationMy duties as Attorney General were remarkably broad and diverse. I immediately immersed myself in litigation involving the sale of a non-profit health care provider to a for-profit health care corporation. This transaction of more than $1 billion represented the largest conversion of a non-profit charity to a for-profit corporation in United States history.
Kansas had a legal right to ensure that the proceeds from the sale of this hospital chain were dedicated to charitable purposes since it was Kansas that initially granted the chain charitable status. The case was complex and consuming. Moreover, I was embroiled in water litigation with Colorado and Nebraska while I also worked to deliver on my campaign promise to strengthen our efforts to protect children.
During these initial months, my office also received further evidence of criminal activity by Kansas abortion clinics. This evidence included:
- confidential sources indicating that late-term abortion restrictions were not followed and that child rape went unreported;
- the statement by a Planned Parenthood security guard who claimed he was ordered to ignore fake ID’s used to evade Kansas law that required parental notification prior to an abortion;
- statements by women who admitted they received late-term abortions which were contrary to Kansas law;
- public data which indicated that child sexual exploitation went unreported.
Based on this information I authorized a limited investigation of the Kansas abortion clinics. My investigators were assigned to obtain and analyze public information to determine if further investigation was required.
Public Information Revealed the Need to InvestigateKansas law required abortion providers to report specific information regarding every abortion to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). These reports were called Kansas Termination of Pregnancy Reports (KTOP). The reports did not contain the name of the patient. The reports were designed to ensure abortion clinics were restricting late-term abortions in compliance with the law. KDHE was required to publish a summary of these reports each year.
The KDHE public summaries showed that each year an average of 75 children fourteen years of age and younger had abortions in Kansas.
My investigators decided to obtain public information on the number of child sexual abuse reports emanating from those areas were abortions were performed. They then compared the abuse reports with the KDHE reports showing child abortions. If the numbers did not match up, further investigation was warranted. The numbers did not match.
This series of events initiated one of the most unforeseeable and remarkable efforts to thwart a legitimate investigation and criminal prosecution ever witnessed in Kansas.
Opponents of the investigation wrongfully portrayed it as a “gross invasion of the privacy of women” that threatened public exposure. These false claims were made despite the fact the women were not being investigated, and their identities were neither sought nor needed to prosecute the abortion providers. Even now, despite 10 years of intense media and public scrutiny, not one adult patient has been revealed.
Unknown to me at the time, Planned Parenthood was in serious financial and legal jeopardy for failing to report child sexual molestation. Federal law required a forfeiture of federal monies for any failure to report child sexual molestation. Planned Parenthood, therefore, stood to lose more than $300 million a year if convicted, fully 33% of its annual revenues.
These high stakes motivated an extraordinary campaign to thwart the investigation.
Defeating an InvestigationKansas law requires prosecutors to present evidence to a district court judge prior to filing criminal charges. The judge is charged with reviewing the evidence to determine if probable cause exists to believe that the defendant committed the alleged crimes. Once the judge makes the probable cause finding, the prosecutor may file charges and issue a warrant for arrest.
Three independent Kansas judges on four separate occasions found probable cause exists to believe that the abortion files of Planned Parenthood of Comprehensive Health of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and an abortion clinic operated by Dr. George Tiller contained evidence of crimes.
In two instances, those judges found probable cause to believe the abortion providers committed 137 criminal acts, including 23 felonies.
The investigation revealed that during a time when 166 abortions were performed on children fourteen years of age and younger in Kansas, Planned Parenthood and Dr. Tiller each only reported one case of child sexual abuse.
The records also elucidate the abortion providers’ violation of Kansas late-term abortion restrictions and the possible manufacturing of documents in response to a criminal subpoena.
Criminal charges were filed against Dr. Tiller in December of 2006 and against Planned Parenthood in October of 2007. Seven years has passed since the evidence was first subpoenaed. None of the charges ever reached trial, and due to political interference, they will never reach open court.
The targets of the investigation were key political benefactors of Kathleen Sebelius, then Governor, now Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Extraordinary efforts by Sebelius, her political allies, and the majority she appointed to the Kansas Supreme Court stymied the investigation and prosecution of Kansas abortion providers. The resulting legal battles eviscerated the investigation objectives of protecting Kansas children and upholding the rule of law.
The arguments of those opposed to the investigation failed legally, but were strategically successful. The extraordinary mandamus rights granted Planned Parenthood and Dr. Tiller allowed unprecedented delays providing sufficient time for the investigation subjects and their allies to destroy evidence, silence witnesses, and politically marginalize the investigation.
Attacking the MessengerMy understanding is that the creators of this website desire to review the claims that I violated ethics rules during the investigation of Kansas abortion providers. These claims originated with the abortion providers themselves, and were amplified by decisions written by Justice Carol Beier of the Kansas Supreme Court.
The ethics claims should give pause to any objective observer.
Kansas has a unique method of appointing state Supreme Court justices. The Justices are appointed by the Governor for life, without need of Senate confirmation. They do stand for “retention” elections, but the law does not allow anyone to run against them. Candidates who do not have opponents do not lose elections.
During most of this legal battle, five of the seven justices on the Court were those appointed by Sebelius or her Lt. Governor. These appointments included Justice Carol Beier, whose pro-choice position on abortion is widely known. Justice Beier held radical positions on numerous issues, and wrote that judges should consider using their legal opinions to shape public perception favorably towards modern feminist goals. These positions are well-documented in a motion my attorneys filed to recuse Justice Beier from deliberations in this ethics proceeding.
Justice Beier joined Planned Parenthood in filing an ethics complaint against me. This filing went to the Kansas Disciplinary Administrator Stanton Hazlett. Mr. Hazlett was appointed by Justice Beier and the Court. Mr. Hazlett presented his evidence to a panel also appointed by Justice Beier and the Supreme Court. That panel reported back to Justice Beier.
Summary of ClaimsThis website reviews each of the 10 claims against me which the Supreme Court is now reviewing. Here, you can review those claims along with public source documents to come to an understanding of the nature of these claims.
I do desire, however, to briefly summarize these claims here.
The first three of Mr. Hazlett’s initial claims demonstrate both his intent and a novel manner in which he is attempting to apply the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct.
Mr. Hazlett alleged:
1) that my personal prolife beliefs made it an unethical conflict of interest to investigate the abortion clinics;
2) that it was unethical to start an investigation of failure to report child rape unless a raped child came forward to complain that their rape was unreported; and
3) that it was unethical for my investigators to refuse to tell the Sebelius Administration who we were investigating and the nature of the evidence supporting the investigation. Let me address these claims individually.
1) My Prolife Beliefs Did Not Make My Criminal Investigation of Abortion Clinics Unethical.
I am anti-crime, yet I have prosecuted numerous criminals. I am anti-rape, and I have prosecuted rapists. I am anti-murder, and I have prosecuted murderers. This claim is nonsense and is merely a formula to deny the right of a pro-life person from holding a position of authority. If my pro-life beliefs render it a conflict to investigate the clinics, then I suppose that that the pro-choice beliefs of a prosecutor who refuses to investigate also constitutes an unethical conflict of interest.
2) It is Ethical to Start an Investigation of Failure to Report Child Rape Before a Raped Child Comes Forward.
Essentially, Mr. Hazlett claims that law enforcement cannot begin an investigation unless someone files a complaint. Accordingly, since a raped child had not reported to our office, their rape was not reported and we could not initiate an investigation.
This interpretation of the ethics rules by Mr. Hazlett effectively prohibits any proactive law enforcement efforts. We could not investigate drug crimes because neither the dealers nor the buyers complain to law enforcement. An officer on patrol who witnesses a bank robbery could not give chase until the bank calls to complain about the robbery.
This bizarre interpretation of the rules of ethics becomes even more problematic in cases of child sexual exploitation. Children do not report their own abuse – they are exploited and frightened. This is why we have “mandatory” sexual abuse reporting laws requiring others to report the abuse. It stands to reason that prohibiting law enforcement from investigating the failure of “mandatory” reporters to report child sexual abuse until the child reports their own abuse defeats the purpose of the law.
3) It Was Not Unethical for Investigators to Refuse to Inform the Sebelius Administration of the Full Nature of the Investigation.
Sebelius Administration held much of the information necessary to pursue the investigation. It was this Administration which aggressively fought the investigation. Early in the investigation we sought information which routinely would be provided to legislators and others. When my office made a request, the Sebelius Administration demanded more information. My Chief of Staff informed them we were investigating failure to report child rape. The Administration then refused further assistance unless were provided a full factual basis for the investigation including the name of the investigation targets. We reasonably refused to provide this information, and the Sebelius Administration refused further cooperation. Mr. Hazlett claims this refusal is unethical; it is not. It is proper.
It is proper because law enforcement does not have a duty to tell a third-party witness, or even a suspect, details about an investigation. Doing so can harm privacy, threaten witnesses, and result in the destruction of evidence while undermining the integrity of the investigation.
In fact, that result is exactly what happened. As soon as the Sebelius Administration learned that we were investigating the governor’s political allies, the Administration destroyed evidence. Her Kansas Department of Health and Human Services destroyed documents under criminal subpoena, claiming the destruction was a “routine” purging of dated documents. Interestingly, the agency continued to fight subpoenas of these destroyed documents for years without informing the judges who issued the subpoenas that the requested documents had been destroyed.
Additionally, in May of 2009, Sebelius ally Attorney General Stephen Six destroyed documents that incriminated Planned Parenthood of several felonies at a time when General Six knew Planned Parenthood had been charged with these felonies.
Imagine how many investigations would be irreparably harmed if ethics required law enforcement to tell anyone who asked all of the facts supporting an investigation.
Mr. Hazlett has characterized my office’s refusal to reveal details about its investigation as a “lie” by me. He has repeatedly told the media that I intentionally misled SRS during the investigation, inferring that the investigation was improperly founded. As you have seen, nothing could be further from the truth.
Keep In MindI do not believe that any investigation has received more scrutiny than the investigation of the abortion providers. I have been on the witness stand more than 45 hours. My staff has been subpoenaed and has testified for days. I have been placed under oath more than two dozen times and have now been investigated by Mr. Hazlett for close to six years.
As you review this material, I ask you keep the following in mind:
- Not one adult patient has been publicly identified.
- Every Judge who reviewed the evidence obtained in the investigation found the evidence to be compelling, and every judge found probable cause to believe the clinics committed crimes.
- Despite these probable cause findings, none of the charges filed by my office reached open court due to extraordinary interference by a Sebelius-appointed Supreme Court and Mr. Hazlett.
- None of the allegations against me question the legitimacy of the evidence against the clinics, nor do any of them claim that we misrepresented or created evidence.
- None of the claims that I “lied” are supported by the facts, and none of these claims involve information that is significant or material to any legal proceeding.
Documents Available to the Public
The ethics investigation and evidence is now fully available to the public. If you have an interest, you can read the numerous pleadings to gain a detailed understanding of this matter. These pleadings include:
- The Exceptions. This document details the facts of the investigation and takes specific exception to Mr. Hazlett’s claims.
- The Opening Brief Filed by my Attorneys. This brief outlines some of the facts and legal arguments opposing Mr. Hazlett’s theories.
- Mr. Hazlett’s Response Brief. Mr. Hazlett details his current theories in this document.
- Our Reply Brief. This brief responds to Mr. Hazlett’s brief.
- The Motion to Recuse Justice Beier. This motion details some of the bias and deception of Justice Beier.
I did my duty as Attorney General and followed the evidence. The evidence led to the office doors of powerful political players who stood to lose much. A remarkable legal battle has followed.
The compelling tragedy of this story, however, is not the ethics charges brought against me. Rather, the tragedy of this story is that hundreds of children in Kansas were raped, and those with a duty to protect those children did not act. This egregious neglect cannot be remedied. This failing is a shame on my native state.