Archive for Thursday, December 21, 2006

Kline accused of ethics violation

December 21, 2006


— Outgoing Attorney General Phill Kline has been accused of improperly using state computers in his failed re-election campaign this year and could face a $5,000 fine from the state Governmental Ethics Commission.

The commission plans to have a hearing Jan. 17 on the allegations, which it spelled out in a public notice after receiving information about e-mails promoting Kline's bid for a second term.

It is the second time within a year that Kline has faced sanctions from the commission. In March, it fined him $1,500 after he reported himself that a consulting firm working for his campaign had unintentionally but illegally solicited contributions from lobbyists.

The hearing in Kline's case is scheduled nine days after he is to step down as attorney general and becomes Johnson County district attorney, replacing Democrat Paul Morrison, the man who ousted him from statewide office.

The commission isn't pursuing a criminal prosecution against Kline, however. It has the power to put together a case and forward it to state or local prosecutors but frequently chooses to levy civil fines instead.


dragonwagon2 11 years, 5 months ago

For a man with supposedly such high morals - he certainly lacks ethics. Is that an oxymoron - or just moron?

trinity 11 years, 5 months ago

lol dragon....

is anybody else just getting REAL sick of reading/hearing/seeing about phill the pill??? gawd, i sure am!

countrygirl 11 years, 5 months ago

Are we supposed to be surprised at this?

Linda Endicott 11 years, 5 months ago

Oh, wow, an entire $5,000 fine. Won't that put a serious dent in his pocketbook?


Steve Mechels 11 years, 5 months ago

"Oh, wow, an entire $5,000 fine. Won't that put a serious dent in his pocketbook?


No, I'm sure some church or Operation Rescue will step up to pay it...

optimist 11 years, 5 months ago

Governor Sebelius too has been sanctioned and self reported herself for violating election laws. The rulebook is very thick. In most cases these are minor infractions resulting in ignorance of the rules. No matter how hard a candidate works to avoid violating the rules it is nearly impossible. Given the scrutiny of Kline I would suggest that if these minor infractions are all that have been dug up on him then he made every effort to avoid crossing the line.

To call any politician a cheat simply because of a minor technical violation is like calling someone who makes an unintentional error on their taxes (given the complexity of the tax laws) a tax cheat.

Get a grip. I realize there are a number of you out there that don't agree with Kline but spending so much time hating him isn't healthy.

KUDB99 11 years, 5 months ago

or some other holier than thou art organization

oldgoof 11 years, 5 months ago

optimist: "The rulebook is very thick" . goof says: Hardly. And let's wait to see the details of this complaint explained before we conclude it is a "minor technical violation."

Hawkman 11 years, 5 months ago

guess you are an optimist, optimist...HE IS A CROOK and an idiot. Quit supporting the a@@....damn right wingers

Baille 11 years, 5 months ago

The rulebook might be thick, but any politician knows that you can not "use or authorized the use of state computers to copy and forward e-mail addresses to expressly advocate" for one's re-election.

Why would one even need to look at the rulebook to know that you can't do that?

Anyway, if true, Kline would have been breaking the law and would have committed a misdemeanor. A crime. You would think that our oh-so-qualified new DA of JoCo and the former attorney general of the state would know that. After all, he is t he best man for the DA position, right?

"KSA 25-4169a. Use of public funds, vehicles, machinery, equipment and supplies and time of certain officers and employees to influence nomination or election of candidate prohibited; exceptions; misdemeanor.

"(a) No officer or employee of the state of Kansas, any county, any unified school district having 35,000 or more pupils regularly enrolled, any city of the first class or the board of public utilities of the city of Kansas City, Kansas, shall use or authorize the use of public funds or public vehicles, machinery, equipment or supplies of any such governmental agency or the time of any officer or employee of any such governmental agency, for which the officer or employee is compensated by such governmental agency, to expressly advocate the nomination, election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate to state office or local office. The provisions of this section prohibiting the use of time of any officer or employee for such purposes shall not apply to an incumbent officer campaigning for nomination or reelection to a succeeding term to such office or to members of the personal staff of any elected officer.

"(b) Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a class C misdemeanor."

Even if he can't remember where the statute books are kept these days, he could have simply turned to the free site hosted by the state governmental ethics commission. It's on there. Or maybe he just should have called Ron Thornburg. Ron has never had a problem following the election laws.

jonas 11 years, 5 months ago

Hawkman: I want to send an email to a@@....damn now. I wonder what will happen.

Scott Tichenor 11 years, 5 months ago

Interesting that the representatives of Johnson County imported what the entire state--including Johnson County--didn't want.

jonas 11 years, 5 months ago

It is questionable logic, for sure, since he was outvoted by a, what, 2 to 1 ration in JoCo?

moderation 11 years, 5 months ago

I know for a fact that the director of the ethics commission told Kline that he could ethically and legally do exactly what he did.

I guarantee this will be dismissed or the ethics commission will have a lot of explianing to do.

moderation 11 years, 5 months ago

by the way, there are several witnesses to that fact and they have been contacted and will testify to that fact if this even goes to a hearing.

moderation 11 years, 5 months ago

Leave it to the Journal World to edit out Kline's response.

The Wichita Eagle at least has the professionalism to include his defense:

ASBESTOS 11 years, 5 months ago

"Kline accused of ethics violation"

Well THERE is a newsfladh!

justthefacts 11 years, 5 months ago

It would make sense for someone who KNOWS his every action is under a microscope to be extra careful. And, if indeed Mr. Kline was concerned enough to check out the conduct in question before it occurred, and was told by the Ethics Commission (or its director Carol Williams) that he had the green light, it would be a sure sign of partisan politics at its worst. The facts need to determined, but it would be really bad for anyone to now be in trouble for something they were told OK to do by the entities regulating that kind of conduct. It would be like a cop saying "the speed limit is 50 here" and then ticketing someone for going 50. It happens far too often though...........

Baille 11 years, 5 months ago

OK, Moderation, so you are saying that the top law enforcement official of the state of Kansas looked at this law: "No officer of the state of Kansas shall use or authorize the use of machinery, equipment or supplies of any such governmental agency to expressly advocate the election of a clearly identified candidate to state office" and then had to go out and ask if using the state's computers to email people about re-electing him violated the law?

Even if he was told it was OK by the Ethics Commission people, how could he in good faith believe that? "Look I know the law says don't do X, but if you do X, that will be fine." Uh-huh.

However, after having been schooled by JTF a couple of times, I will allow that we do not have all the facts yet. Maybe there is some part of "Kline used or authorized the use of state computers to copy and forward e-mail addresses to "expressly advocate" his re-election" that is not a violation of the law.

Apparently his actions including taking the email addresses of people who had emailed the AG's office to ask questions and then used those emails to solicit votes. Maybe this is arguably not a violation of the law. Seems like it is on its face, though.

Certainly, if Phill emailed from a state computer it would be, but even if he just harvested the email address he had to use state machinery and state resources to get the emails off the state's servers. Then he apparently started email those people urging them to vote for him.

That seems a lot like using state "machinery, equipment or supplies" of a "governmental agency to expressly advocate the election of a clearly identified candidate to state office." Maybe he is pulling a Clinton and arguing the meaning of the word "clearly."

justthefacts 11 years, 5 months ago

I did not read where it was alleged that PK used state computers to send campaign messages out. What I read was that the addresses in question were first obtained from electronic records possessed by a public agency. Computer formated records are subject to the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA); See K.S.A. 45-217 at and the KORA outline on line at

A record request made to any office for addresses might result in providing such addresses, under KSA 45-215 et seq, in the form requested. While such addresses might be subject to discretionary closure, under KSA 45-221(a)(30), they are not required to be closed to requesters.

Thus, it is quite possible that the email addresses acquired by any governmental agency could be requested by a candidate or anyone else... It probably would not be a violation of KSA 45-230 (commercial solicitation law) to send campaign material.

Baille 11 years, 5 months ago

When I obtain a list of records through state agencies, I often have to certify that I am not going to use them to solicit business, funds, and so forth, but you may be right. It will make for an interesting argument anyway.

If I have time over the holiday break, I will look at it in more detail.

In the meantime, it seems to me that Kline is skating close to the edge of what is ethical and what is legal once again. I would prefer a candidate for AG to be a little more conservative in their mad dash to get re-elected. Or to the very least to have an articulate, well-reasoned AG Opinion ready to go. Somehow the claim that the Governmental Ethics Commission said "OK" seems a little weak on the legal analysis one would want from a competent AG and heavy on the "What, me worry?" that one would not want in a competent AG.

moderation 11 years, 5 months ago


Please stop commenting out of ignorance.

Be honest, have you read the actual accusation against Kline or are you merely speculating?

If you are just speculating, then please stop acting like you know what is going on until you know the facts.

Sounds like you have decided he is guilty without knowing the facts or allegations. Showing your true colors heh?

Diana Lee 11 years, 5 months ago

I think state law is pretty darned clear on this issue.

State employees and officers are permitted to use their time to advocate for the express election or defeat of an identified candidate who is seeking re-election. Everything else, including the use of state property or equipment, is prohibted.

See KSA 25-4169a.

I find it incredibly difficult to believe that the Ethics Commission would have told Kline otherwise. They certainly did not issue a public opinion on the issue. Furthermore, one might safely assume that the Attorney General of the state and his staff are in a position to read the applicable statute and correctly determine what they are and are not permitted to do under it.

Baille 11 years, 5 months ago


I think my comments stand on their own. I admitted there were facts I did not know and speculated on how the facts that I read about might apply to two statutes that at least facially conflicted.

As for my true colors, I am not aware that I have ever tried to hide them. I have been very vocal and open in my opposition to Kline, but that opposition is supported by principle and by logic.

I may be wrong from time to time, but I do not know many people who aren't.

If you are privy to all this inside information and can gaurantee Kline will walk away unscathed, then lay out the facts and apply them to the law.

If not, then maybe you should reflect on your own advice.

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