Archive for Saturday, May 25, 2002

Kline explains his three lapses in legal license

May 25, 2002

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— Republican attorney general candidate Phill Kline's state law license lapsed three times since he was admitted to the bar in 1987, most recently during his 2000 congressional bid.

Kline said Friday that two of the three lapses were his choice while pursuing other ventures and the third was an oversight on his part.

None of the lapses was the result of any disciplinary action. His license is active.

"It's not been a secret that I took 10 months off to focus on the (congressional) campaign," Kline said in a telephone interview while campaigning in southeast Kansas.

"It's not a suspension, this is a lapse," he continued. "A suspension implies that I did something wrong."

Kline said he had been open about the lapses and his challenger, Sen. David Adkins, was trying to make it a campaign issue for the Aug. 6 primary.

"They are part of my bio," Kline said.

Adkins, a Leawood moderate, said license lapses raised questions about Kline's fitness to be the state's chief law enforcement officer.

"We intend to make qualifications an issue in the race," Adkins said. "In light of the threats to homeland security, Kansans deserve a chief law enforcement officer who has shown the commitment to the practice of law."

A clerk with the Kansas Supreme Court confirmed Friday that Kline's license had lapsed three times for failure to either comply with continuing law education requirements or to pay the annual $100 fee.

Those lapses occurred:

l Nov. 3, 1994, to Nov. 23, 1994, for failing to meet continuing education requirements.

l Nov. 5, 1996, through Aug. 4, 1997, for failing to pay the registration fee.

l Sept. 4, 1999, through Feb. 14, 2001, for failing to meet continuing education requirements.

Kline said the first lapse had occured when he failed to mail a continuing education form to the state. The second was when he stopped practicing law to focus on a business venture. The third was to campaign for Congress.

"I chose not to practice law, that's different," Kline said.

Carol Green, clerk of the appellate courts, said attorneys were required to take 12 hours of law courses each year, including two credit hours of ethics or professional responsibility courses.

There are nearly 13,000 licensed attorneys in Kansas, Green said, with between 200 and 300 having their licenses lapse each year. Renewal notices were issued this week for the coming year, due July 1.

"It's not like this is the only one," Green said.

In 2000, Kline, a Shawnee conservative, failed to unseat Democrat Dennis Moore from his 3rd District congressional post.

The issue of his license arose in 2001 when he was mentioned as a possible nominee for U.S. attorney in Kansas.

He later withdrew his name a week after the Sept. 11 attacks, citing other political ambitions. Kline said getting his license active and the nomination were not related.

No Democrat has announced for the office. The filing deadline is June 10.

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