Archive for Thursday, September 14, 2006

Kline’s memo blurs lines

Private note implies church sermons used for campaign

September 14, 2006


— Ministers who invited Atty. Gen. Phill Kline to their pulpits said Wednesday that the Republican preached the Bible, not politics.

But Kline's leaked campaign memo on "church efforts" showed that Kline saw his Sunday sermons as a way to raise more campaign cash in a tough race against Democrat Paul Morrison.

"Goal is to walk away with contact information, money and volunteers and a committee in each church," Kline wrote in the Aug. 8 four-page memo to his campaign staff.

Those and other instructions have put Americans United for Separation of Church and State on alert.

Jeremy Leaming, a spokesman for the Washington, D.C., watchdog group, said Kline's mixing of politics and religion could jeopardize the churches' tax-free status under Internal Revenue Service rules.

"We do find the memo to be outrageous and irresponsible on the part of the attorney general," Leaming said. "If he cares a lot about his religious base, he shouldn't endanger their financial status."

Campaign defends memo

Under Internal Revenue Service laws, nonprofit organizations, such as churches, generally aren't supposed to collect money or work to endorse specific candidates or political parties.

Kline's campaign has defended his strategy, saying the attorney general is simply working on getting support from his base. And the campaign said there is nothing illegal about speaking at churches.

"Those receptions have been separate," said Sherriene Jones, campaign spokeswoman, referring to the fundraising events.

Jones also said the campaign was concerned that someone illegally acquired the memo and that it had beefed up security.

Churches: Nothing wrong

Kline's memo includes several suggestions to get churches involved in his campaign.

But several ministers contacted by the Lawrence Journal-World said that when Kline took their pulpits, he focused on religion and didn't mention his political race.

Kline spoke Aug. 20 to about 400 people at New Hope Evangelical Church in McPherson.

The Rev. Jim Keil said Kline talked only about his relationship with Jesus Christ.

"I'm a bit amazed at how well this man could preach," Keil said.

The church didn't mention a Kline fundraiser later in town, Keil said.

Darin Putthoff, a minister of a church in Topeka, said Kline spoke before his congregation. Putthoff also said he arranged fundraisers for Kline at his house and the home of a friend.

The fundraisers were relaxed and low key, Putthoff said.

"Phill came to our house one night and hung out for the evening with my friends and neighbors," he said.

Putthoff said the tone of Kline's memo simply reflected how supervisors sometime talk to their employees.

"When you write a memo to office staff, you word it in a dry, blunt way," he said.

But Leaming, with Americans United for Separation of Church and State, warned churches to steer clear of Kline's efforts outlined in the memo.

"Sign up folks to help with lit drops, etc. Some churches have already volunteered to do this," the memo states.

"Must rework Joe Wright and Terry Fox," Kline wrote, referring to two Wichita ministers who led the charge to pass a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

"Must get in their pulpits and have them personally host a reception to match Tiller's blood money," Kline writes, referring to Dr. George Tiller, who owns a Wichita clinic that provides late-term abortions.

Leaming stated, "Inviting politicians into the pulpits during campaign season; it has to be done with great care."


Kuku_Kansas 11 years, 8 months ago

"I'm a bit amazed at how well this man could preach," Keil said.

I'm not suprised at all. I consider Kline to be a religious zealot.

His politics reek of his personal religious bias, which is then forced upon every Kansas constituent.

Even scarier yet, he only has a job because Kansas voters allow this.

Baille 11 years, 8 months ago

Hopefully, by this time next year, Phill will be preaching full time and we will have Morrison, a practicing attorney, as our AG.

paladin 11 years, 8 months ago

Hypocrisy is a predominant characteristic of politicians. This is, ultimately, acceptable because they are representative of us, the People. The General is no different than the many televangelists and preachers who look the little old widow ladies in the eye, while sharing a tear, talking about the unconditional love of Jesus and His eternal forgiveness, how He's their forever friend and will never abandon them, while they've silently got their mitts in the old, worn pocketbooks, stealing away the meager proceeds of the pathetically paltry Social Security check. Eternal salvation, to be had for a buck or two, whether Grandma is aware of being fleeced or not.

WilburM 11 years, 8 months ago

Yeah, DonQ, we all know what a liberal rag the LJW is; clearly it has a fierce anti-Kline bias. Maybe, just maybe, it's a story worth 2 days, especially since the LJW was a day ahead of all other KS papers in reporting it.

prioress 11 years, 8 months ago

God/s and politics don't mix well; that's just one reason the founders were so concerned about not repeating the legacy of Europe on a new continent. We should, however, be careful about picking on people of faith. Some of this discussion reminds me of a word: ++++++++++ Tautology (logic), a statement true by virtue of its logical form. Tautology (rhetoric), use of redundant language that adds no information. Tautology, needless repetition of an idea, statement, or word; see also: pleonasm. ++++++++ This describes most of BUSHCO's rhetoric on the "war" and other issues of concern. I say this because I believe it; I believe it because I say it. The prime example: "My god can beat up your god." (The bible (which one) tells me so.")

tir 11 years, 8 months ago

Kline uses the religious right to get re-elected, they use him to force their right-wing conservative agenda on the rest of us. Both Klein and the conservative Christians know exactly what they are getting for their time, effort and $$$. Now everyone else knows too, and hopefully people will keep that in mind when they cast their votes for attorney general.

cutny 11 years, 8 months ago

Yet another politician who will not be "out jesus-ed" by his opposition. Kline is a opportunistic low-life of the first order, holding his "morality" up as his badge and shield. I don't know how anyone could call the LJW liberal. They simply report the news that crackheads and crooked politicians make.

ksmoderate 11 years, 8 months ago

C-man. More spew from the Lunatic Fringe.

You, sir, are a broken record.

Kline was elected to uphold the LAW, not disobey it in his preposterous inquisitions. Let's hope the people speak with their votes this year to send him packing.

Have a great day, buddy.

jayheel 11 years, 8 months ago

Where are the moderates? Why is it in this state anyone who represents the mainstream like Sebelius, Morrison, Moore, Shaver and Waugh are labeled by the right as liberal terrorist heathens. Likewise, Kline stroking religious groups does not make him a Nazi. Unethical and biased yes, but not a rascist oligarch.

The Dems need to start embracing mainstream religion instead of hiding from it. Some of us go to church too. We may not be bible thumpers who picket clinics...but we can pray that mothers CHOOSE to bring their babies to term.

kmat 11 years, 8 months ago

jayheel - Why do democrats need to embrace mainstream religion? Religion shouldn't be part of the government! And what exactly is mainstream religion? Which one you gonna pick?

Personally, I get pissed when ANY politician from either party talks about religion. Elected officials are there to do a job, not preach. Separation of church and state!!!!!! Religious beliefs are personal (even though many think they have to publicize their beliefs, which I think is sickening). If you have a personal relationship with a god, goddess, messiah, whatever - it is YOUR relationship and doesn't need to be shared with anyone that doesn't ask to be a part of it.

The last time religion and politics mixed, people were burned at the stake. Keep them separate.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 8 months ago

I don't think the churches are totally without blame here, either. Kline is a politician, not a minister, and the churches know it. Exactly what was the motive behind these churches inviting him to speak?

And is anyone really surprised that Kline would use churches to further his political agenda? And that the churches would use him, too, because they know what a zealot he is?

No, maybe he didn't specifically ask for votes. But everyone knows why he was there.

Rationalanimal 11 years, 8 months ago

Bill Clinton has been beating the hedges of Harlem churches for the last 2 decades. Gore has been in Tibet. How about the esteemed Rev. Sharpton and Jackson who use their titles as religious minsiters as a platform for the democrat party soapbox. --and on and on. Does anyone really want to argue such use of church and theology are not for some type of political advantage.

Baille 11 years, 8 months ago

Buddhist temple and the ex-VP? OK. And if Gore ever runs for Kansas Attorney General we should bust his chops about it.

Of course, this is not just about the incompetent and unethical Phill Kline, and not at all about Al Gore. This is about who is the best person to serve as the Kansas AG. Clearly, at this time, that person is Paul Morrison.

common_cents 11 years, 8 months ago

Yep money.

I am a practicing concervative, and even I think he is a whack job.

staff04 11 years, 8 months ago

Any bets on how long until the General uses his official office to investigate the "illegal" acquisition of the memo?

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 8 months ago

Yes, politicians have always used churches to extract political donations. However, Kline is moving beyond the limits of previous moderation and decorum and is explicitly identifying churches as political fundraising bodies. The church-as-PAC phenomenon.

If I were a pastor at one of the targeted churches, I would tread with caution. Also, I would be greatly offended to be treated as a political donation mill and as being in the pocket of Kline.

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 8 months ago

"All hail Paul Morrison!!!"

Agreed. Hail, Paul Morrison, hail! Restore reason, moderation and true conservatism to the AG position.

ksmoderate 11 years, 8 months ago

I think the KS Constitution should be amended to establish the state AG as an appointed position. Appointed by the gov., confirmed by 2/3 of the legislature. Other states do this.

Then, the AG could spend his/her time on, oh, I don't know......BEING THE AG. From reading Kline's memo, it appears his busy campaign schedule keeps him from his job.

staff04 11 years, 8 months ago

hga- But certainly not as well loved as Kitty Harris...

youngitized 11 years, 8 months ago

Phill Kline is such a hypocrite! Here he is trying to seek out the wealthiest members of a church and collect funds from them, what a cheapskate. As if churches aren't broke enough. This is a new low even for Phill Kline.

Porter 11 years, 8 months ago

I give today's prize to yourworstnightmare. Nightmare is the first one to point out the real ramifications of this leaked memo.

I can't imagine church leaders are lining up to get Phill up to the pulpit now. He could preach on and on, and everyone in the congregation would know what he really thinks about them. They're nothing but dollar signs in his eyes.

I have to hope that church leaders will refuse to act as the AG's pimp for the next few weeks.

Rationalanimal 11 years, 8 months ago

The bottom line is, PK hasn't done anything illegal, and especially hasn't done anything politicians from the right AND left have been doing for decades, if not centuries.

Lastly, if PK wants to go to a church and preach a message containing his personal beliefs, that's called freedom of speech. Just because PK is the AG doesn't mean his views on religion are barred by the separation clause, except maybe by the most radical interpretations of this clause.

Porter 11 years, 8 months ago

Who said this was illegal? No one is saying that PK can't preach. Right or wrong, there's nothing that says he can't use church services for fundraising.

That's not the point of these news articles. The point is that he is going into SELECT churches for the SOLE purpose of raising money. This has nothing to do with beliefs or Christianity or even politics. This is all about PK looking at these congregations as prositutes while calling them lovers. It's sad, really.

GOPConservative 11 years, 8 months ago

It doesn't matter whether you agree with the theocratic socialist, Phill Kline. It also doesn't matter if you believe other politicians have been guilty of similar violations.

In this specific case, there is a smoking gun. Kline's memos indicate a very clear violation of the tax code.

The IRS now has the evidence and can act on it. The memos make it clear. Any church that allowed Kline to visit is a part of this scheme to shake down wealthy members and enlist others in political activities.

All the activities detailed in Kline's memos are not allowed under the tax code for tax-exempt organizations. The IRS needs to identify the tax returns of anyone who contributed to these "churches," and send out assessments for back taxes, interest and penalties.

According the tax code, each contributor will need to pay both Federal and State taxes on any contributions they illegally deducted on their return during the last three years, which is as far back as the IRS can go.

Further, the State and local governments need to assess property taxes to these political action committees that have been falsely been claiming to be churches.

The IRS and State need to enforce the law and collect these unpaid taxes by these "churches" and their contributors. Interest and penalties should also be paid.

If they don't prosecute this, then the Feds and the State need to allow all other political contributions during the past three years to be tax-exempt and send out refunds to those who contributed to mainstream candidates.

staff04 11 years, 8 months ago

I was thinking about this earlier:

Is it morally wrong for a candidate to solicit campaign donations by making promises he has no legal power to keep?

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 8 months ago

"Despite your opinions, parkay, Kline has the same legal obligation to protect the rights of "abortion mills" as Morrison does to protect those that see abortion as wrong."

This is a great point. The job of the AG is to uphold the law, not to use the office as a tool in an ideologically-driven jihad against abortion, which is legal in this country mind you.

staff04 11 years, 8 months ago

hga- Funny that you mentioned scientology.

Two weeks ago, on a particularly gorgeous Washington Sunday afternoon, I sat for a while in Dupont Circle and people watched.

I don't know how it happened, but I think I got converted...

(Their DC headquarters is right on the north side of the circle, if you didn't know)

Porter 11 years, 8 months ago

logicsound04-You're right about the correction to my post (nothing says he can't do this...). I just don't feel like that's the biggest issue. The true rub is that PK is supposed to be a stand-up guy fightin' for the "Christian cause". Apparently, he just wants their money. Something tells me he hasn't been preachin' in the poor churches.

I must be on the right track, anyway. conservativeman disagrees with me.

HGA - Another HST quote. I love it. Keep up the Gonzo posting.

Tychoman 11 years, 8 months ago

Kline is an awful AG, he's out of here come November.

trinity 11 years, 8 months ago

lmbo, oh "hadourphill", that was priceless! ;)

classclown 11 years, 8 months ago

No big deal here. This is nothing more than another opportunity for some of you to bitch and for some others to counter bitch.

Get out of the house once in awhile folks.

drewdun 11 years, 8 months ago

After reading the things that the wingers post, you have to hope that they know what they are saying is just flame material. Because if these guys believe even half the things they post, its time to call the good doctor...

"Get the strait-jacket"

ethicsfirst 11 years, 8 months ago

I think it is important to be careful not to equate religion, namely CHristianity, with the conservative ideology. It is true that many conservatives are Christian, but there are also many liberal Christians. There are many Christians, like myself, who see the danger of having people like Phill Kline in office. I am really tired of people blasting Christians because sleezy politicians like Kline, who claim to be Christian, give the religion a bad name.
Christian does not equal Kline supporter!!!

SettingTheRecordStraight 11 years, 8 months ago

Think about it. Kline, once again, is getting coverage in the newspapers and on tv-- TONS OF COVERAGE. He's getting more and more people taking a look at his issues, his office, his message, etc. Paul Morrison could only wish for such media airtime.

And Kline won't shy away from speaking at churches, even after a supposedly damaging memo about his strategy is leaked. What we have are stories about Kline speaking to churches even AFTER the memo was leaked. Kline isn't running from his church strategy; he's EMBRACING it. He hasn't stopped speaking at churches; he'll probably speak at MORE. He hasn't apologized for the memo; he's STOOD BY it.

And coverage like this, in Kansas, is good. Very good. Except for the few bloggers who hate Kline's guts and always will, at the end of the day who's going to fault a fellow for speaking at a church??? C'mon. When Joe and Jane Anybody sit down and think about Kline's plan to speak to congregations, they will understand that Phill is simply a Christian elected official reaching out to other Christians in a campaign year.

Oh, and Kline's comment about Tiller's "blood money?" Another brilliant move. Most people don't know George Tiller performs third trimester abortions right here in Kansas, but they will now. And most don't know that in 2002 George Tiller spent HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of dollars to beat Phill Kline in his race for AG. But they will now.

The more you think about it, the more it makes sense. Phill Kline is one incredibly smart guy.

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