Kline reveals office’s litigation expenses

? Kansas Atty. Gen. Phill Kline on Wednesday released his office’s outside legal expenses, which immediately drew fire from his expected opponent in the November election, Johnson County Dist. Atty. Paul Morrison.

“There is more spent now than ever before on simple litigation that should be handled in-house,” Morrison, a Democrat, said.

But Kline said the expenses were necessary, effectively used, and in line or lower than his predecessor, Carla Stovall, a two-term Republican.

“Kansans demand and deserve that their government be held accountable to them. The release of this kind of information helps ensure that,” said Kline, a Republican.

Kline’s figures showed that he has spent $2.15 million and $2.016 million over each of the past two years for litigation fees.

In her last full year in office, Stovall spent $2.34 million. Before that, she spent $1.83 million, $2.21 million, $1.61 million, $1.35 million, $1.77 million and $1.59 million.

His figures also showed a significant decrease in travel expenses for the office, compared with expenses under Stovall.

In fiscal year 2005, which ended June 30, travel-related costs were $157,282, compared with $256,482 for fiscal 2002, the last full fiscal year Stovall was in office. The difference is 39 percent.

But Morrison took Kline to task for several litigation expenditures.

Those include $152,701 to Vincent Rue, a Jacksonville, Fla., consultant who founded an anti-abortion institute and argues that abortion causes psychological trauma for women and girls.

Rue’s work was used in a still-pending federal lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, a New York advocacy group, over a 1982 law that Kline says requires doctors, teachers and others to alert authorities to cases of consensual sex between minors as well as child abuse.

“Is this a deal where Kline has taken it upon himself to support those who agree with him?” Morrison asked.

But Kline’s spokesman, Whitney Watson, said Rue is a well-known expert who has been used by 10 attorneys general across the nation in legal proceedings.

Morrison also complained about the $30,000 Kline spent to help him prepare in a death penalty appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Why are these kinds of monies being spent? They’re being spent because he doesn’t know how to be a lawyer,” Morrison said.

But Watson said Kline spent far less preparing for the Supreme Court case than Stovall did in a Supreme Court appeal.

Kline also spent $31,126 on two attorneys to bring a lawsuit against state-financed abortions for Medicaid recipients. The case was dismissed. The monies went to Lance Kinzer, a Republican state representative from Olathe, who received $11,655, and Dorinda Bordlee, an anti-abortion advocate and attorney formerly from New Orleans, who received $19,471.

Kline has said the lawsuit was filed in response to a 2002 House resolution seeking a court order barring the state from spending state funds for the procedure.