Topeka Paul Morrison's campaign for attorney general criticized Atty. Gen. Phill Kline on Monday for taking a campaign contribution from a member of the Fred Phelps family.
"The fact that Phill Kline would take money from a person who protests the funerals of our servicemen and women is disturbing," Morrison's campaign manager Mark Simpson said.
"Someone with such terrible judgment and skewed priorities has no business being attorney general," Simpson said.
Kline's campaign said they didn't know for sure if the contribution in question was from a member of the Phelps family, which has gained worldwide attention for picketing soldiers' funerals.
Just hours after being contacted by the Journal-World about the contribution, Kline's campaign said it donated the amount of the contribution -- $500 -- to the Kansas Patriot Guard, which is a group of volunteer motorcyclists who shield military family members from the sight of the Phelps' pickets.
The Phelps family contends the deaths of U.S. soldiers are God's vengeance for the U.S. tolerating homosexuals.
Kline campaign spokeswoman Sherriene Jones said Kline has been a vocal critic of the Phelpses and that Morrison was "throwing mud" instead of debating the issues.
Kline, a Republican, faces Morrison, a Democrat, in the Nov. 7 general election.
Morrison's campaign criticized Kline for taking the contribution from Benjamin C. Phelps, the grandson of Fred Phelps Sr. on Oct. 17, 2002.
At the time, Kline was involved in a tough campaign against Democrat Chris Biggs. Kline won by 4,287 votes out of 821,107 ballots.
Contacted by the Journal-World, Benjamin Phelps said he donated money to Kline because of the tightness of the race.
"He was the lesser of two evils," Phelps said of Kline. "But he (Kline) has proven to be the greater of two evils," he said.
Phelps said he doesn't support Kline anymore because Kline has aligned himself with the Patriot Guard.
Benjamin Phelps participates in the funeral protests, and in the mid-1990s was convicted of misdemeanor battery for spitting on a man during an anti-homosexual picket outside a restaurant in Topeka.
Jones, the spokeswoman for Kline, said Kline abhors what the Phelpses do.
On Saturday, Kline denounced the Phelpses during a talk to the Patriot Guard in Mulvane.
But Simpson said Kline used Benjamin Phelps' money to win his race in 2002.