Archive for Saturday, October 28, 2006

Records show declines in consumer savings under Kline

October 28, 2006


— Restitution and savings to Kansas consumers who have complained of being fleeced have declined under Atty. Gen. Phill Kline, according to state records.

For 2005, Kline's consumer protection division reported consumer savings of $921,533. In 2004, the total was nearly $375,000.

Those totals are less than the last two years of Kline's predecessor, former Atty. Gen. Carla Stovall Steckline.

In 2002, Steckline's office saved consumers nearly $2.9 million, and in 2001 the figure was nearly $9.3 million, according to state reports.

The dropping totals under Kline have become an issue in this year's attorney general's race where Kline, a Republican, faces Democrat Paul Morrison, Johnson County district attorney.

Last week, Steckline, also a Republican, crossed party lines to endorse Morrison. One of her main reasons, she said, was Kline's performance in consumer protection.

"He (Kline) has been such a disappointment in not addressing the needs of consumers," Steckline said.

Morrison has attacked Kline for hiring Bryan Brown to head the consumer protection division. Brown was arrested 12 times for anti-abortion protests from 1989 to 1992.

Noting the drop-off in consumer savings under Kline, Morrison said, "How do you get that far down? By having bad judgment, wrong priorities and hiring somebody with a lengthy criminal record who is not much of a lawyer to head that unit."

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Kline has defended Brown's legal abilities and compared Brown's anti-abortion protests to the civil disobedience conducted by civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.

Sherriene Jones, a spokeswoman for Kline's campaign, said Kline has changed the operations of consumer protection division.

"Our focus is going after those who scam and fraud Kansas consumers, not businesses that make honest mistakes," Jones said.

She said Steckline wasted taxpayer funds on sometimes trifling consumer disputes. Her comments, though, differ from what Kline had said about Steckline in the past.

In writing the consumer report that covered Steckline's last year in office, Kline said, "General Stovall is to be commended, as is her staff, for accomplishing goals which she set for her division."

But Kline opposed Steckline on several major legal issues.

As a legislator, Kline had opposed the state getting involved in the lawsuit against tobacco companies, which resulted in a $206 billion settlement with 46 states, including $1.6 billion for Kansas. And in the late 1990s, he disagreed with Steckline's decision to join a group of other states that sued Microsoft, alleging the company had engaged in illegal monopoly practices.

Kline also has benefited from an ad campaign from the Republican State Leadership Committee, which is funded by corporate interests.

But Kline has said he has been at the forefront of consumer issues.

"We won the Health Midwest case resulting in $110 million to consumers," Kline said. "That dwarfs my predecessor's record with consumer protection."

Kline was referring to the 2003 hospital sale of the nonprofit Health Midwest, which had hospitals in Missouri and Kansas, to the for-profit HCA Inc.

Under the sale, nonprofit foundations were created in Missouri and Kansas. Morrison has said the bulk of the work on the deal was done during the Steckline administration.

On Friday, Brown produced the 2005 consumer report for the media.

"The 'drop' in consumer filings and restitution numbers under the Kline Administration should be viewed as a mid-course correction for the division," the report said. "As such the 'slow down' in the transfer of wealth from law-abiding businesses to complaining consumers constitutes statistical proof that the reforms of 2003 have remedied state action often accused of overreaching due to a seeming anti-business bias."


willie_wildcat 9 years ago

The way things are going there won't be a middle class for long.

oldgoof 9 years ago

Patriot & Rightthinker: Having been on the other side of many reporters' questions, my judgement is that Rothschild is about as good and unbiased as a reporter you are going to find. Period. And this is the opinion shared by the majority who work in the state capitol.

Unfortunately for Mr. Kline's sake, it is Mr. Kline's own statements and conduct which are creating the leads in these news stories....not those of Mr. Rothschild. I can quibble with an occasional paragraph or a nuance in his work, but taken as a whole, they are an accurate reportage of the stories he covers.

BOE 9 years ago

In appreciation of Mr. Brown's Katrina-like performance in the Kansas consumer protection division, it behooves us to and honor him with an appropriate "huzzah":

" Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job! "

xenophonschild 9 years ago

Bias? How about the truth? How about an unprincipled demagogue, smirking in his knowledge that you yokels will back anyone who opposes abortion and says "God" or "Jesus" every five word, running a gutter campaign reminiscent of Bowery politics in the 1880s.

Kline is scum. That you can't see it says a lot about you.

Godot 9 years ago

Why didn't you dems put Chris Biggs up again? That would have given us a choice.

Scott Tichenor 9 years ago

Is there anything left? What have I left out?

Kline: Takes money from the Phelps'. Takes money from churches. Funnels consumer money into his wife's "business". Out to lunch in protecting consumers AT lunch in protecting corporate interests. Hiring criminals (yes, multiple) Invasive with our medical records

Remind us again, Phill. What is it you're doing for us?

Hey Merrill, after this is over, let's buy us a bottle of that French wine we both like and we can toast Kansas' new Attorney General. One more thing in the craw of the GOP.

Waiter, take this back, I said I wanted FREEDOM FRIES, not French Fries. Doh!

Mike Blur 9 years ago

Kline is the consummate business-friendly politican operating from an office that SHOULD BE PROTECTING consumers' interests.

To extract a quote from Tom Frank's book, "how can anyone who has ever worked for someone else vote Republican?"

Richard Heckler 9 years ago

The middle class is the largest group of consumers. Guess the know where they stand. Kline must be taking his orders from the neocons and the Bush administration where the middle class take a back seat.

WilburM 9 years ago

Interesting, there are almost 40 comments re the he-said she said 15-year old harrassment case that has long been settled.

And here is real news about the way Kline with his anti-abortion consumer director has gutted an important part of Kansas government.

His personal agenda does have costs -- fewer collections for Kansas government and far less oversight over shady practices.

rhd99 9 years ago

Does the word, OVERREACHING mean anything to anyone? That is why KLINE is going to lose. He OVERREACHES for stuff that really is NONE OF HIS BUSINESS & in the process BREAKS several LAWS to do it! Stop INVADING OUR PRIVACY, you RELIGIOUS ZEALOT! You want to burn people, go to McDonalds & flip some burgers, & leave the Law enforcement to an actual Law Enforcement PROFESSIONAL, who unlike you, knows how to PROTECT Kansans from Criminals, something you're going to be labeled after you are given the BOOT in November!

ASBESTOS 9 years ago

Kline did not pay attention to the individual.

I sent a KORA request for them to review...and they totally F-ed it up and did not do their job as the Atty General.

I am a Republican....But he has to go!

Jamesaust 9 years ago

"As such the 'slow down' in the transfer of wealth from law-abiding businesses to complaining consumers constitutes statistical proof that the reforms of 2003 have remedied state action often accused of overreaching due to a seeming anti-business bias."

Translation: business good, consumers bad.

Its the equivalent of the losing Eric Carter theme in the Insurance Commissioner race: insurers need less not more regulation.

Of course, the opposite is true. Deceitful business operations that go unpunished not only harm consumers but destroy honest business that won't employ criminal acts to make their shareholders fat.

Brown - as a criminal - is unqualified to hold any public office or be involved in law enforcement at any level. You can't be on both sides of the law. And Kline demonstrated his unfitness by hiring Brown.

rhd99 9 years ago

KLINE, the ZEALOT will LOSE. I don't have time for RELIGION Based DICTATORIAL ZEALOTS who hold elected offices! Let's WAKE UP KANSAS, & Get our BUTTS TO THE POLLS in NOVEMBER! Morrison! Morrison! MORRISON!!!!!!!!!!!!

BOE 9 years ago


" law-abiding businesses " and "businesses that make honest mistakes"

but the friendliest adjective they can come up with for consumers is:

" complaining consumers "

The AG office in a nutshell.

dirkleisure 9 years ago

"I think Morrison is a total scumbag."

And yet, to most people, that would still put him above Phill Kline.

If they are both scumbags, then I guess it has to be decided on ths issues. On the issues, Morrison wins. If he didn't, I would be seeing ads from his opponenet about dismissed, unproved claims.

Calling Morrison a scumbag, when his opponent is Phill Kline, is hardly a reason to vote for Kline!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

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