Topeka Abortion opponents are watching the appointment of a new attorney general closely and don't trust Gov. Kathleen Sebelius because of her support for abortion rights.
They oppose one potential appointee, Securities Commissioner Chris Biggs, because of unsuccessful efforts by Wichita abortion provider Dr. George Tiller to help elect Biggs to the office in 2002.
Attorney General Paul Morrison, a Democrat elected last year, plans to leave office Jan. 31 because of a sex scandal. Anti-abortion groups frequently criticized Morrison over his handling of abortion issues and remained angry about his successful campaign to oust Republican incumbent Phill Kline, an abortion opponent.
The state constitution gives Sebelius the power to appoint someone to fill the remaining three years of Morrison's term. The new attorney general will take over a prosecution of Tiller already derided by abortion opponents as not aggressive enough.
"I just don't think she'll pick anybody who will make Dr. Tiller unhappy," said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life.
Sebelius and her aides say such criticism is unfounded. While other Democrats have mentioned at least 11 people, including Biggs, as possible appointees, she's not yet narrowed the list or conducted interviews.
"Governor Sebelius will look at all possible talented candidates who will help restore the integrity and faith in this office and protect the people of Kansas," spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said Tuesday.
Morrison announced his resignation Friday, only five days after acknowledging an extramarital affair with Linda Carter, a woman who worked for him when he was Johnson County district attorney. Morrison held that job before being elected attorney general. He switched parties to challenge Kline, and Republicans later chose Kline to fill the vacant county job.
According to Carter, her affair with Morrison began in September 2005 and lasted two years - through the campaign and after Morrison became attorney general. She continued to work in the district attorney's office and, in a detailed statement about their affair, she also accused Morrison of professional misconduct.
Among other things, she said Morrison sought sensitive information about Kline's activities as district attorney, including abortion-related ones. He denies any professional misconduct.
Kline plans to appoint a special prosecutor, and the state board that reviews allegations of misconduct against attorneys has started its own investigation. Carter filed a civil rights claim in November with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Brian Russell, a Lawrence attorney representing Carter, said she did not make her statement public. The Topeka Capital-Journal obtained a copy of it and broke the story in its Dec. 9 editions.