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Archive for Saturday, December 15, 2007

Morrison walking away

State’s top prosecutor resigns amid scandal

December 15, 2007

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Sex scandal leads to Morrison's resignation

Embattled Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison will leave office at the end of January. Today's announcement comes less than a week after Morrison became involved in a sex scandal. Enlarge video

A.G. Morrison resigns

Attorney General Paul Morrison resigns his post citing personal issues Enlarge video

Kansas attorney general Paul Morrison returns to his office after addressing the media Friday to announce his plans to resign effective Jan. 31, 2008. "After careful thought and deliberation, I have concluded that my resignation is in the best long-term interests of the people of Kansas," Morrison said.

Kansas attorney general Paul Morrison returns to his office after addressing the media Friday to announce his plans to resign effective Jan. 31, 2008. "After careful thought and deliberation, I have concluded that my resignation is in the best long-term interests of the people of Kansas," Morrison said.

Washburn University political science professor Bob Beatty on Morrison resignation

Washburn University political science professor Bob Beatty on Morrison resignation

Related document

Paul Morrison statement ( .DOC )

Morrison's week

Sunday: Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Attorney General Paul Morrison's former director of administration when he was Johnson County district attorney, Linda Carter, said in a signed statement that she had a two-year extramarital affair with Morrison, and that he sexually harassed her and tried to coerce her to intervene in litigation involving current Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline and to get information about Kline's work in his investigation into a Planned Parenthood clinic. Morrison admitted having had an affair with Carter, but denied her other allegations.

Monday: Gov. Kathleen Sebelius says if Morrison did what Carter said he did, then he should resign.

Tuesday: Morrison asks attorney oversight agency to investigate his actions.

Thursday: Kline gets permission from Johnson County Commissioners to investigate Morrison concerning allegations that he threatened and tried to blackmail Carter while she was still with the Johnson County district attorney's office.

Friday: Morrison resigns but denies having broken any laws or attorney conduct standards.

— Facing multiple investigations linked to an extramarital affair, Attorney General Paul Morrison on Friday announced he will resign from office, adding another chapter to an unprecedented scandal in Kansas politics.

"Because of my actions in my personal life, many people have stopped believing in me. That has been damaging to this office, my staff and the people of this state," Morrison said, reading a statement in front of reporters.

"My actions caused pain and sadness to many people I love," he said. "I have been working for some time to get right with God, get right with my family and get right with friends, and address my personal problem, and I will continue to do so."

After his four-minute statement, in which his cell phone rang several times, Morrison took no questions, turned around and walked back into his office.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is responsible for choosing the successor for Morrison, who has been mired in controversy during the past week.

Subordinate's complaint

Linda Carter, a former subordinate of Morrison's when he was the Johnson County district attorney, has accused him of sexual harassment and trying to get information from her on the activities of Phill Kline, Morrison's political foe and current Johnson County district attorney. She has filed a complaint against Morrison with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Morrison, who defeated Kline in last year's election for attorney general, admitted to having an affair with Carter, but denied her other accusations of professional misconduct.

Democrats - who had welcomed Morrison's party-switch to take on anti-abortion warrior Kline, a Republican - said Morrison made the right decision to leave.

"He really put himself in a situation where it would be difficult for him to run that office the way it should be run," said state Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence.

Meanwhile, Republicans tried to tie Morrison's problems to Sebelius, a Democrat, who recruited Morrison to the Democrats.

"Governor Sebelius was a main factor in the selection of Paul Morrison to run for attorney general as a Democrat in 2006," said Kansas Republican Party Chairman Kris Kobach. "The people of Kansas should question whether the governor can be trusted."

Sebelius will chose a replacement, but she didn't indicate when.

"My priorities are to protect the people of Kansas and preserve their faith in our system of justice," she said in a prepared statement.

Possible successors

Some Democrats' names have been mentioned, including Kansas Securities Commissioner Chris Biggs, Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson and Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson.

Morrison's resignation is effective Jan. 31, but he faces federal, state and county investigations.

Morrison had been Johnson County district attorney for 18 years when he switched to the Democratic Party to run against then-Attorney General Kline in 2006.

The Morrison-Kline contest was a bruiser, with Morrison criticizing Kline's pursuit of medical records in his investigation into alleged illegal abortions.

At one point, Kline dredged up a sexual harassment claim filed against Morrison from the early 1990s that concerned another woman. Morrison and his wife, Joyce, said there was nothing to the claim and said it showed Kline's desperation.

Morrison won the election for Kline's post. Then, Kline took over Morrison's old job, as Johnson County Republican officials voted for Kline to replace Morrison as district attorney and serve the remainder of Morrison's term. In Johnson County, Kline continued to investigate what he said were allegations of illegal abortions.

Carter continued working in the district attorney's office after Kline took over. She said Morrison unsuccessfully tried to coerce her into writing letters on behalf of attorneys who had sued Kline after he fired them from the Johnson County office.

And Carter said Morrison tried to get information from her about Kline's case against the Planned Parenthood clinic in Overland Park.

This week, Morrison denied the charges and asked the state's attorney disciplinary agency to investigate his actions.

Kline's actions

But on Thursday, Kline upped the ante.

He received permission from Johnson County commissioners to hire an independent prosecutor to investigate allegations of harassment and blackmail. The target of the investigation is Morrison, according to several sources.

Kline said it was necessary to seek an outside prosecutor in the matter because staff members in his office may be witnesses in the probe.

Kline would not comment on Morrison's resignation or on a Harris News Service report that Carter revealed to Kline details of her affair and allegations against Morrison prior to her filing a federal Equal Employment Opportunity complaint. Brian Russell, a Lawrence attorney representing Carter, also declined to comment on Morrison's resignation.

Douglas County District Attorney Branson said Morrison always conducted himself professionally with him.

"It sure is regrettable what is going on now," Branson said. "I have a lot of emotion for the Morrison family right now."

Of his name being talked about as a replacement, Branson said, "My focus is on serving the people of Douglas County."

Political fallout

Kansas University political science professor Alesha Doan said the controversies that have surrounded Kline and Morrison probably will result in more cynicism among voters about politics.

"In Kline's defeat, there was sort of a perception of him using his position for his own personal agenda, and now you have these allegations against Morrison," Doan said. "The end result is one of cynicism and mistrust among the voters."

Now the focus will turn to Sebelius as she names a replacement.

Washburn University political science professor Bob Beatty said Morrison's resignation now gives his replacement three years to develop a track record to run again in 2010.

"Three years is a good chunk of time," Beatty said. "Morrison did some real heavy lifting for the governor and the Democrats. He defeated Phill Kline, and the office is still Democratic."

Paul Morrison, from Johnson County DA to former state AG

November 1989

Paul Morrison becomes Johnson County district attorney. He runs again four times unopposed.

2005

Morrison switches parties to run against Phill Kline for Kansas attorney general.

Nov. 7, 2006

Morrison defeats Kline in a landslide for attorney general.

June 27, 2007

Morrison drops Kline's charges against George Tiller, accusing Kline of pushing his anti-abortion political agenda.

Dec. 9, 2007

Linda Carter, Morrison's former director of administration, reveals two-year extramarital affair with Morrison; alleges he sexually harassed her, tried to coerce her to intervene in litigation involving Kline and to get information about Kline's work.

Friday

After asking the attorney oversight agency to investigate his actions, Morrison resigns.

Comments

Centrist 6 years, 4 months ago

"Governor Sebelius was a main factor in the selection of Paul Morrison to run for attorney general as a Democrat in 2006," said Kansas Republican Party Chairman Kris Kobach. "The people of Kansas should question whether the governor can be trusted."

No, Kris ... the people of Kansas should question whether you should be trusted. Didn't you go to jail for mortgage fraud?

How ridiculous to try and tie this to Sebelius. Gimme a break. It's like Salem all over again ...

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spywell 6 years, 4 months ago

Morrison, didn't break the mold of the AG's office. Remember Bob Stephen.

If Sebelius accepts Morrison's resignation the Dems will be done with her politically and she should just as well become a Republican.

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spywell 6 years, 4 months ago

Morrison's phone ringing was Sebelius' calling him back to tell him to wait about resigning.

My guess is that after the dust settles and Hazletts office clears him and Carter's complaint falls into Klineville roadkill rage. Morrison will be restated as AG. Sebelius may not accept his resignation.

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Frank Smith 6 years, 4 months ago

This is a bit much, of course.

The previous poster is correct. Morrison began this affair while he was a Republican. Does anyone think she knew about his affair? She was one of the first to call for his resignation.

That Kline was manipulating this situation for months before it became public should hardly be a surprise.

Troy Newman? Ask him why his non-profit tax status was revoked. Ask him how much involvement his creepy bunch had with the Kline campaign, ferrying truckloads of Kline yard signs around in his tax-exempt "Truth (sic) Truck" and placing them. Ask him what he did with all the money he collected during the Terri Schiavo charade. Ask him why he and his crew haven't paid taxes on their earnings from who knows how many widows' mites. Ask him about all the properties he's bought with those monies.

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camper 6 years, 4 months ago

Kansas politics is starting to look like Chicago, when thinking of Diptheria.

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Godot 6 years, 4 months ago

Morrison has a future as a pundit on cable news. He'd fit right in with the Greta crew.

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Centerville 6 years, 4 months ago

Nice try. The adultery is just a tacky sideshow. The question, as you very well know, is how far did Morrison go to protect his campaign contributors from legal investigations.

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Crossfire 6 years, 4 months ago

Kansas politics, just a Scarlett Letter, Witch Hunt. With all the Fred's and the Phill's beating their drums and screaming, "Adulterer, Adulterer, Adulterer..." What a shame.

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gccs14r 6 years, 4 months ago

JoCo Republicans shouldn't shout too loudly. Morrison was still one of them when he had the affair.

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flamingdragon 6 years, 4 months ago

bowhunter99 first of all, he had the affair before he requested the info. secondly, as everyone knows, republicans are the best at sleeping with corporations to get what they want (money) ex: halliburton & blackwater. bush crime family, etc. third: all bs aside-answer one question: do you consider your own economical life to be better off now with 7 years of bush-or back when Evil Bill was in charge? hmm? The economy of the United states is now a joke. We are going from first to worst really quickly. Maybe if bush began to have extra-marital affairs, we could get something going on. Maybe its time to end all of this party-line bashing and actually place emphasis on candidates with goals that actually help the people who are electing them. I'll start right now. Btw-you have nothing to fear. when hillary gets re-elected, she won't be coming after bowhunters-and guns will always be here. in fact, the clinton ban on assault rifles actually helped the industry-I should know-Its my career.

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Bowhunter99 6 years, 4 months ago

wow... having an extramarital affair in order to get information about his opponent....

Can he stoop any lower? Perhaps he was thinking he was following Clinton's steps... and going a bit further.

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Inquiringmind 6 years, 4 months ago

Did Morrison's affair with Carter result in the misuse of public funds? If so a crime was committed. Possibly a felony. An audit seems to be in order.

Rothschild, you might be able to get a scoop with "the rest of the story." Ask Morrison if he used or allowed the use of public money to further his affair with Carter. But don't accept his answer as true. You should make an open records request for Morrison and Carter's travel expenses to verify for yourself.

Follow the money!

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Ray Parker 6 years, 4 months ago

This is but the initial gleam exposing to all, even the reluctant observers, some the depth of the vile and corrupting influence of the criminal abortion industry on Kansas government, and especially on the criminal justice system, causing a national crisis, as thousands of out-of-state mothers every year come into Kansas for illegal late-term abortions not tolerated elsewhere.


"Because of the deceptive nature of the way huge amounts of money were pumped in the [2002] Biggs campaign by Tiller, Biggs's integrity and honesty remain under a cloud of suspicion, and that is the last thing Kansans need in the Attorney General's office right now. Given the fact that Tiller is in the process of a criminal prosecution, it is clear that Biggs, with his shady connections to Tiller, is the wrong man for the job." . . . Operation Rescue President Troy Newman

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yankeelady 6 years, 4 months ago

I can't see Kline making a comeback, and the Republicans should remember some of their own shining stars---Adam Taft comes to mind. So far there is no proof of legal wrong doing. The thing I find hard to comprehend is that Morrison would run for AG to begin with, while having an affair. He had to know he would be under a microscope. Political hubris. Sooner or later it will catch up. Kline needs to remember that also. Now Phill has a chance to prove he is a human being and not a vindictive zealot, by dropping the special prosecutor. Now that Morrison has stepped down, it will appear even more petty than it did initially. Of course Kline will push on--.

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50YearResident 6 years, 4 months ago

We finally got a AG that does his job as a defender of the law. Now we have to worry if Kline the christian abortion attacker will seek to return.

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macon47 6 years, 4 months ago

get a grip, this is just a media circus created by kline with carters help for all the anti abortion nuts to rant and rave about. it has very little to do with morrison except to ruin him. he fooled them, he walked away and wont play thier silly little game

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fetch 6 years, 4 months ago

Really? We're attacking professors now?

critiquing self-appointed pundits? You bet.

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its_getting_warmer 6 years, 4 months ago

"On Friday, Harris News reported that Kline learned of the affair weeks and possibly months before it was revealed to the public, and that his investigator took a statement from Carter this fall detailing her relationship with Morrison. Details from that statement were later leaked."

....This is all classic Kline......

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plumberscrack 6 years, 4 months ago

said Kansas Republican Party Chairman Kris Kobach. "The people of Kansas should question whether the governor can be trusted." ++++++++++++++++++++++++

Boy, if this isn't a case of the pot calling the kettle black!

Like we really can trust Kris Kobach.....MWAHAAAHAHHAA.

I think i'll take my chances trusting the governor, thank you!

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sinedie 6 years, 4 months ago

Really? We're attacking professors now?

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fetch 6 years, 4 months ago

And it sure was convenient for Prof.Beatty to show up at the press conference so he could be one of the pundits for journalists to get reaction quotes from. What a way to build your Google-count!

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fetch 6 years, 4 months ago

Give me a break. Branson is in no way a contender. He is lucky to have his job. His assistants have more credibility as candidates.

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Centerville 6 years, 4 months ago

I doubt it will be Parkinson as I'm sure the governor remembers that it was Parkinson who represented Morrison in his first sexual harrassment suit and helped the former husband of the accuser to file neglect charges against her when she refused to drop the charge against Morrison. Oh wait, the governor knew this when she recruited Morrison in the first place. Never mind.

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fairylight 6 years, 4 months ago

It remains to be seen if Morrison can recover from this. It would seem to me it will depend on what is ( or is not) found during the ensuing investigations.

One of my biggest questions is WHAT caused Carter to wait until this month to lodge her complaint? IF this complaint is ( as seems quite possible) the result of being jilted then I question why taxpayers are going to be forced to stand the cost of yet ANOTHER investigation.

That Kline was so damned quick to jump on the bandwagon here makes this whole thing reek!

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macon47 6 years, 4 months ago

i wonder why the media hasnt drug linda carter out in front and danced her up and down the stage like they have morrison. she is a two timer just like him, what is the difference?

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