Republicans say legal review of Morrison not enough
Topeka ? Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison may face more than a review by his peers of allegations of lawyer misconduct.
State Republican Party Chairman Kris Kobach said Wednesday that Morrison also could be subject to investigations by an independent prosecutor and the Legislature.
“There are many possible paths,” Kobach said.
In a stunning development this week in Kansas politics, Morrison admitted to having a two-year extramarital affair with Linda Carter, who had been director of administration of the Johnson County district attorney’s office when Morrison was district attorney.
Carter has filed a sexual harassment complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and alleged that Morrison tried to get information from her about legal matters involving Phill Kline, according to a report by the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Morrison, a pro-abortion rights Democrat, defeated the incumbent Kline, an anti-abortion Republican, in the attorney general’s race in 2006. Kline then was selected by Johnson County Republican officials to serve the remainder of Morrison’s district attorney term. Morrison had been a Republican before switching to the Democratic Party to take on Kline in the attorney general’s race.
In addition to the affair, Carter says Morrison tried to get from her information about Kline’s litigation with the Planned Parenthood clinic in Overland Park, and to have her write letters on behalf of former district attorney’s office employees who had sued Kline after he dismissed them when he took office, according to the Capital-Journal.
While admitting to the affair, Morrison has vehemently denied Carter’s other reported charges.
On Wednesday, he asked the Kansas Disciplinary Administrator’s office to investigate him.
“I deny any wrongdoing, but I believe a thorough investigation is necessary,” Morrison said in a letter to the disciplinary administrator.
The disciplinary administrator is an agency under the Kansas Supreme Court that reviews complaints against lawyers who allegedly violate the attorney code of ethics.
The disciplinary administrator’s office receives approximately 1,000 complaints a year with about one-third of those resulting in some level of investigation, according to Ron Keefover, a spokesman for the Kansas Supreme Court.
Once a complaint is filed, Administrator Stanton Hazlett determines whether to docket the case for investigation.
If he does, then Hazlett appoints an investigator to gather facts. That investigator doesn’t have the authority to compel people to testify.
The investigator submits a report to a three-member panel of the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys, which can dismiss the case or determine that hearings are necessary.
If a formal complaint is filed, then the process moves from behind closed doors into the open, where hearings are held and witnesses can be required to testify. The panel overseeing that process then makes a recommendation to the Kansas Supreme Court, which would have the final word in the case.
If the court determines the lawyer should be punished, then it can issue a censure, suspend his or her license or take away the license.
Everyone involved in this review and investigation process is a lawyer.
But Kobach said if it is determined that Morrison committed crimes, then he deserves more punishment than something that could affect his law license.
Kobach also said he is distressed that several members of the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys had contributed money to Morrison’s campaign to unseat Kline. He said those members should not be allowed to be a part of the investigation process.