Archive for Sunday, December 16, 2007

Effects of Morrison scandal on Democrats debated

December 16, 2007


— Democrats in Kansas lost a high-profile convert, a proven money-raiser and someone with a bright political future when Attorney General Paul Morrison became embroiled in the sex scandal that prompted his resignation.

Some Democrats don't think their party will suffer lasting damage because Morrison's announced he will step down Jan. 31 over an extramarital affair with a former subordinate. But some Republicans believe Morrison's problems will help the GOP.

The state Republican Party is trying to tie the scandal to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and other prominent Democrats who helped persuade Morrison to switch parties to unseat incumbent Phill Kline in the attorney general's race last year. The state GOP also believes Morrison will be an issue in legislative contests next year, when all 40 Senate and 125 House seats will be on the ballot.

"We're not going to let voters forget about it," said Christian Morgan, the state GOP's executive director.

Democrats don't think Morrison's problems will be an issue for the party or its candidates, given his swift decision to resign, only six days after acknowledging the affair. Lee Kinch, a Wichita-area attorney who's a member of the Democratic National Committee, said statements such as Morgan's are "partisan nonsense."

"I don't believe there's been any permanent damage done," Kinch said Saturday. "Voters are going to be thoughtful about who they vote for."

The affair

Morrison acknowledged having an affair with Linda Carter, formerly the director of administration for the Johnson County district attorney's office. He was district attorney for 18 years before taking office as attorney general in January. He was elected to the county office as a Republican, and the county's GOP chose Kline to replace him as district attorney.

Carter said the affair began in September 2005 and lasted two years - which means it continued while Morrison ran for attorney general and after he became attorney general. She filed a civil rights claim with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in November, three weeks before leaving her job in Johnson County.

She accuses Morrison, her supervisor when the affair began, of sexual harassment. She alleges he tried to use her to influence a federal lawsuit filed by employees Kline dismissed after becoming district attorney and that Morrison sought sensitive information about Kline's activities. Morrison has denied those allegations.

Carter detailed her allegations in a signed statement obtained by The Topeka Capital-Journal.

The fallout

Kline plans to appoint a special prosecutor to look into Morrison's conduct and has said the investigation will deal with allegations of blackmail and telephone harassment. Besides the EEOC, the state board that reviews allegations of misconduct against attorneys also is investigating.

House Minority Leader Dennis McKinney, D-Greensburg, questioned whether Morrison made his decision to resign too quickly because, "Big decisions are usually better made with the perspective of time."

He said of his constituents: "They were paying attention, but they weren't as consumed by it as, say, people right around the Capitol."

But Kinch said Morrison couldn't have remained an effective attorney general had he decided to stay in office.

"It wouldn't have been helpful for the Democratic Party. It would have prolonged the pain," he said. "The story would have remained on the front page."

The price

Bob Beatty, a Washburn University political scientist, said Morrison could have had the same effect on Kansas Democrats as President Clinton did for Democrats in 2000 by refusing to step aside following his own sex scandal and impeachment.

"Who paid the price? Al Gore," Beatty said. "I think most people would agree that the Democrats lost the presidency because of Clinton, the fatigue over that scandal."

Beatty said Democrats' chances for retaining the attorney general's office depend on whom Sebelius appoints to fill the remaining three years of Morrison's four-year term.

Morrison's experience as a prosecutor made him seem an ideal candidate, and his Republican history helped attract independent and moderate Republican voters. He raised $2.39 million in cash contributions in 2005 and 2006, nearly twice as much as Kline, and won almost 59 percent of the vote.

"The Democratic Party is thin in a pool of statewide candidates to run for such things as the U.S. Senate," said Joe Aistrup, head of Kansas State University's Political Science Department. "This hurts the party. The party invested heavily in him."

What's next

Legislators and others have mentioned Securities Commissioner Chris Biggs as a potential replacement for Morrison. Biggs, a former Geary County prosecutor, narrowly lost to Kline in 2002.

Another possible candidate is Charles Branson, the Douglas County district attorney. There had been speculation that Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson would run, but he has said he is not.

"Three years is a long time," Beatty said. "If a replacement is found who can do a fairly good job fairly quickly, the credibility can come back."

Morgan said Kansans need to watch Sebelius' appointment and whether the appointment process is open. He added that Democrats must answer for pro-Morrison statements and that Sebelius and others face questions about what they knew about Morrison's problems before he began running for attorney general.

Morgan said the Morrison scandal could be enough of a drag to hurt even Democratic congressional candidates, such as Rep. Nancy Boyda, who won a close 2nd District race last year.

But Kinch said Sebelius and other Democrats such as state Chairman Larry Gates can't be pulled into Morrison's problems although they recruited him.

"He was thoroughly vetted," Kinch said. "He was not forthcoming about potential problems, and you can't blame the governor or Larry Gates or others for that."


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 6 months ago

""Who paid the price? Al Gore," Beatty said. "I think most people would agree that the Democrats lost the presidency because of Clinton, the fatigue over that scandal.""

Actually, Gore won the presidency-- he just wasn't selected by the highly partisan and improper decision by the SCOTUS.

Frank Smith 10 years, 6 months ago

The notion that the Governor is responsible for Morrison's problems is ludicrous. The affair was going on when he changed his registration, was it not? Do you think he advertised it when he was recruited to run against the nutcase Klein?

Sebelius was one of the first to call for Morrison's resignation.

Kline knew about the affair long before it became public. Does anyone think he was not pulling the strings? The filing of the EEOC suit is ridiculous, coming a year after Morrison ceased being her supervisor.

After Attorney General Bob Stephan's affair became public knowledge Republicans elected him twice more. This entire episode reeks of coordinated and theatrical hypocricy on the side of the those who are unable to tolerate moderate, traditional Republicans in "their" party.

janeyb 10 years, 6 months ago

What is the big deal? The leading Republican candidate for president has been married 3 times and had several affairs while married. Once Giulianai was locked in the basement of City Hall with his press secretary, while his wife was upstairs looking for him, and most of his staff thought he was home spending the day playing baseball with Andrew. He didn't marry that woman, he met his current wife later and had an extramarital affair with her too. One wife he had to get two divorces --a civil divorce and a Roman Catholic divorce, because he found out she was his second cousin. What's the big deal about Morrison?

Godot 10 years, 6 months ago

If baffles me as to why the JW does not report the details of this story, such as the fact that people in Carter's office overheard several phone calls from Morrison to Carter, including the one where he threatened to defame her to block her future employment, and the record of several phone calls from Morrison to Carter at 4AM recently. If you want to find out what really is going on, check out the CJonline and the KCstar.

Cait McKnelly 10 years, 6 months ago

Personally, I think if anything this whole episode will help Dems. Disgust with the way that Kline "outted" Morrison is pretty rampant. This kind of thing would have never happened in Europe. They could give a rats patootie about somebody's sex life. Only in America with it's Puritan forebears and it's people like Godot who must have every titillating detail is it a big deal. Just stick a big scarlet "A" on Paul M.'s head. I laughed myself silly over the "sexual harassment" charge. If you're gonna sleep your way to the top you have to take the risks.

Sigmund 10 years, 6 months ago

"Actually, Gore won the presidency- he just wasn't selected by the highly partisan and improper decision by the SCOTUS."

Really? SCOTUS did no selecting at all, the Electoral College did the selecting. As for the of the 5-4 decision of Bush v Gore that stopped yet another recount in Florida, two Justices were appointed by Democrats and two by Republicans. I don't really see anything close to "partisan" voting in this case at all.

In the initial count Bush wins by 1,784 and even after the recount in the four Democratic counties Bush still wins by 327. A 2001 USAToday/Miami Herald/Knight Ridder study showed that George W. Bush would have won Florida by 1,665 votes in a second recount of the disputed ballots.

Stop crying over milk that was spilled and soured a long time ago. It is like Republicans obsessing that Richard Dally stole the election for John Kennedy in 1960 or LBJ's fraud in 1948.

With the motor-voter laws and states giving illegal immigrants drivers licenses, expect voter fraud to skyrocket this time around in 2008.

Godot 10 years, 6 months ago

If the JW does not have contacts and sources within both political camps, I guess that makes it ineffective. By the way, the Wichita Eagle ran the KC Star story. Kind of like the AP. Amazing concept.

Godot 10 years, 6 months ago

If Kline were the source of all the details of this story, with the goal of letting as many Kansans as possible know about it, one would think he would leak to as many outlets as he could. And, considering that the JW is a prize winning publication with an internet reach beyond all others in Kansas, it stands to reason the JW would be tops on his list.

Wonder how it happened the the award winning JW got left out in the cold?

Godot 10 years, 6 months ago

Morrison became a Democrat for one purpose: hatred of Kline. Democrats adopted this lifelong Republican as their savior out of their hatred of Kline.

Hate plus hate equals calamity.

yankeelady 10 years, 6 months ago

It's a shame the Republicans don't foresee anything positive they can run on. So they will "not let the voters forget about it" instead. An uplifting platform to say the least.

Sigmund 10 years, 6 months ago

I don't think the Republicans are going to have to remind Kansas voters of Paul Morrison. The Federal EEOC complaint is still pending and won't go away anytime soon, and the civil case for sexual harassment, blackmail, and interfering with an active investigation into one of his major campaign contributors may not last until 2010 but is likely to be making headlines well 2009.

But I have to agree with yankeelady, running against Paul Morrison in 2010 would be as stupid as running against George W. Bush in 2008.

Cait McKnelly 10 years, 6 months ago

Kathy Gragg

enforcer (Kathy Gragg) says:

I'm just trying to figure out which is worse, a Republican having sex or a Democrat having sex. If one is different than the other; how so?

A Democrat makes sure to use birth control. Republicans just go out of state and get secret abortions.

Sigmund 10 years, 6 months ago

All this focus by Democrats on the AG's extra marital sex is somewhat off the mark. Although adultery is still against the law in Kansas I can't remember the last time it was charged.

Although Paul admitted extra marital sex it was the least serious of the allegations. His resignation came amid charges of sexual harassment, blackmail, and that he was attempting to interfere with an investigation by the Johnson County District Attorneys office of a major campaign contributor, Planned Parenthood. These pending charges are far more serious.

Although the former AG denies these allegations how much can you trust a guy that lied to his wife and kids about the previous affair and settled a previous sexual harassment case at the same time he was involved in his most recent extra marital tummy bumping? His credibility and reputation for truth telling and following the laws he was charged with enforcing is lacking, to say the very least. No Attorney General of any party can continue under those circumstances.

BigAl 10 years, 6 months ago

"We're not going to let voters forget about it," said Christian Morgan, the state GOP's executive director.

Very classy. Typical response of "gotcha" politics. Morrison has resigned. Kline was voted out in a landslide. Time to move on.

Ralph Reed 10 years, 6 months ago

Good comment Kathy. I've got the same question.

Sigmund (Anonymous) writes: "His credibility and reputation for truth telling and following the laws he was charged with enforcing is lacking, to say the very least. No Attorney General of any party can continue under those circumstances."

This is one of the reasons Kline was voted out of office also. Politicians in our parochial society live in a fishbowl. If these charges hadn't come to light, then something else would have been brought up. You must remember that Kline is not squeeky clean either. Remember the reports of his telling church groups how to bypass the laws regarding political activity.

I doubt that we'll ever be able to have a office-holder who is not judged primarily on their private life rather than on their ability to do the job.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 10 years, 6 months ago

Chris Biggs is squeaky clean and an experienced prosecutor. Another administrator in Sebelius' stable is Steve Martino, the head of the gaming commission. He had bi-partisan support when he was appointed to that post and is also considered to be a straight up guy.

The one person they shouldn't pick is Rick Guinn, Morrison's #2. We don't need another Republicrat farce. Let him go back to Johnson County and run for DA under whaever banner he thinks he can get elected under this year.

Another in the same boat is Parkinson from the same stable of Johnson County Republican that brought us Morrison. Send them all back where the came from.

Sigmund 10 years, 6 months ago

This whole "private vs. public" lives is a bogus argument in this instance. Blackmail, interference with the investigation of a major contributor to his campaign (Planned Parenthood), and now two allegations of work related sexual harassment might appear to be Morrison's personal life to some, most fair minded people see that as a legitimate public concern. Especially from the the highest elected official in Kansas charged to enforce the law.

Chris "Back Door Cash" Biggs is hardly "squeaky clean" and he has a significant conflict of interest. Paul Morrison filed criminal charges against Dr. Tiller, the single largest contributor to Biggs 2002 campaign, and that case remains ongoing. It wouldn't pass the laugh nor the smell test and Gov. Kathy would be well advised to pick anyone but Chris "Back Door Cash" Biggs.

Sigmund 10 years, 6 months ago

Gore made a choice not to use Bill Clinton in his campaign, but who could blame him? After all Clinton lied under oath and had his licensed to practice law suspended for his troubles. Some might see that as problematic endorsement. Given he lost, it couldn't have hurt him to have Bill Clinton stumping for him

As to the SCOTUS decision in Bush v. Gore, what part do you disagree with and why?

"Seven Justices of the Court agree that there are constitutional problems with the recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court that demand a remedy. See post, at 6 (Souter, J., dissenting); post, at 2, 15 (Breyer, J., dissenting). The only disagreement is as to the remedy. Because the Florida Supreme Court has said that the Florida Legislature intended to obtain the safe-harbor benefits of 3 U.S.C. § 5 Justice Breyer's proposed remedyremanding to the Florida Supreme Court for its ordering of a constitutionally proper contest until December 18-contemplates action in violation of the Florida election code, and hence could not be part of an "appropriate" order authorized by Fla. Stat. §102.168(8) (2000)."

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 6 months ago

Morrison won't hurt the dems. People forget about these things. I mean, who really cares?

Sigmund 10 years, 6 months ago

neejerkreaction (Anonymous) says: "Morrison won't hurt the dems. People forget about these things. I mean, who really cares?"

Agreed. Democratic sock puppets only care about sexual harassment, blackmail, and interference with criminal investigations when Republicans do it.

Kim Murphree 10 years, 6 months ago

This issue should not be used by Republicans, since Morrison was their guy in the JOCO DA's office for years, and the affair began THEN. Governor Sebelius didn't hesistate to call for his resignation if he was shown to be guilty. She has a great deal of integrity...something we have never seen in the former AG and Morrison nemesis, Phil Klein. But, here's the thing....Morrison resigned... NOW how is Klein going to avoid the questions about his breaking the requirements of his office??? Morrison's issues provided a convenient diversion...and Morrison took that diversion away, by resigning (which for better or worse was the right thing to do). Its something Klein will never do....they'll have to take him out kicking and screaming.

blackwalnut 10 years, 6 months ago

Morrison's resignation won't hurt the Dems because the Republicans have failed America so badly, at every level of government, that the Dems are the only rational choice. There is no third party alternative.

Morrison was a Republican until 2 years ago. It's not so important that Morrison was really a Republican until he switched parties to run for AG - but anyone trying to make this into a partisan issue has to face that fact.

And Kline is still as despicable as a politican can get.

Sigmund 10 years, 6 months ago

What is this obsession Democrats have with Paul Morrison's affairs? It is as if you have an affair all else is forgotten! Paul has admitted the most recent one, so let it go already. Quit beating up on the poor guy. Jeez.

The current Morrison controversy is about a second alleged sexual harassment in the workplace (not his tummy bumping with Kelly nor Linda), blackmail, and interference with a criminal investigation into one of his major campaign contributors, Planned Parenthood. Admitting an affair is not a get out of jail free card. If the Democrats want to be taken seriously, you all need to grow up!

BigAl 10 years, 6 months ago

We're not going to let voters forget about it," said Christian Morgan, the state GOP's executive director.

Sigmund. Pay attention now, it isn't the democrats that keep bringing this up. This is 100% from the GOP. Who needs to grow up????

Sigmund 10 years, 6 months ago

As far as I know David Vitter wasn't accused sexual harassment, blackmail, and interference with criminal investigations of a major campaign contributor. The Democrats seem to talk of Morrison's affair as exoneration for all his alleged crimes more than the Republican's speak of condemnation for his moral failings. I get the feeling the supporters of Morrison here are just a bit jealous of his extra marital conquests and willing to forgive their stud his alleged crimes.

Just to be clear, I am not arguing that Christian Morgan or the Republicans should run against Morrison in the 2010 Kansas AG race. That would be as foolish as running against George W. Bush in the 2008 presidential race. Unless Christian Morgan posts to the LJW anonymously as the usual suspects and Democratic sock puppets, it seems they are making more of his extramarital aerobics than are the Republicans.

janeyb 10 years, 6 months ago

All I can say is Linda Carter can't be too smart if it took two years, a hot affair and getting Phil Kline as her boss to realize she was being sexually harassed. What is the next step in her fine career?

Sigmund 10 years, 6 months ago

Janeyb, be sure to add Mrs. Morrison, Kelly Summerlin, and Gov Kathy to that list of not so smart women involved with Paul Morrison.

But it looks like Mrs. Carter may have wised up. "In the twilight of their extramarital affair, Linda Carter urged Paul Morrison to let her go, repair his shattered marriage and resolve his hatred of Phill Kline."

Pretty good advice, too bad Mr. Morrison didn't take it.

Sigmund 10 years, 6 months ago

Defender, so once a women says yes she can never say no? How very enlightened of you! But your point is well taken, none of this is proven, yet. I am glad Kansas can count on you to vigorously support a full investigation of the sexual harassment, blackmail, and interference with criminal investigations charges against Paul Morrison.

BigAl 10 years, 6 months ago

Someone seems very obsessed with this.

Baille 10 years, 6 months ago

Chris Biggs is the best qualified candidate. And as an extra he is a nice, humble guy.

RonaldWilson 10 years, 6 months ago

Morrison's a snake, end of story. He'll gonna be wearing stripes before this is over. And, he's definitely going to lose his ticket to practice. Better start training for a new career.

BigAl 10 years, 6 months ago

At least Morrison got rid of Kline for us. I might add, even in a "red" state, he got rid of Kline in a landslide.

oldgoof 10 years, 6 months ago

RonaldWilson --just a pro-gun, anti-abortion zealot that loves ideologues like Phill Kline.

jtrain 10 years, 6 months ago

I told you Paul, you have to give Kathy money like I did. Truckloads of money. Then she is your best friend. I gave you money. Why didn't you give Kathy some of it? She could have made this whole thing go away. I was killing Down Syndrome girls and half born babies at the same time and she made that go away. Did you listen? No, you spent your money on tramp stamps and skank rings and didn't give any to Sebelius. No one can save you now, sorry buddy. Your friend and campaign supporter, George Tiller

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