Topeka Prosecutor Phill Kline said Friday that he could face paying $200,000 or more in legal bills because of a dispute involving him, the attorney general's office and an abortion clinic.
Kline, the Johnson County district attorney, has filed 107 charges against a Planned Parenthood clinic, alleging it performed illegal late-term abortions and falsified records. Even before he filed those charges, the clinic sued him, and the attorney general has sided with the clinic.
The clinic, Comprehensive Health of Overland Park, filed its lawsuit with the Kansas Supreme Court. It hopes to force Kline to return edited copies of records from 29 patients' files, which are key evidence in his criminal case.
Kline argues that the attorney general's office should provide for his defense, as it has in at least two other, unrelated cases in which he's been sued in his official capacity.
"We've had about $140,000 in legal expenses so far. I anticipate it'll hit $200,000," Kline said during an interview Friday with The Associated Press. "It's not easy. I'm eventually going to need help."
But last year, a deputy attorney general accused Kline in a letter of acting against Planned Parenthood with "malice" and questioned his handling of the patient records.
And Ashley Anstaett, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, said Friday that Kline didn't follow the rules outlined in Kansas law when he submitted his request, something Kline disputes.
"It's unfortunate that he won't take responsibility for failing to comply with the simple guidelines," she said.
Kline began investigating Planned Parenthood's clinic in 2003, when he was serving as attorney general himself. He obtained the patient records then, and his efforts were supervised by Shawnee County District Judge Richard Anderson.
In 2006, Kline, an anti-abortion Republican, lost his race for re-election to Paul Morrison, an abortion rights supporter who'd switched parties to run as a Democrat. Morrison later resigned in a sex scandal, and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, an abortion rights supporter, appointed Steve Six to replace him.
Morrison had been Johnson County district attorney before being elected attorney general. His victory in the statewide race created a vacancy there, but state law gave Republicans the power to fill it. They picked Kline, and just before Kline left the state office, he forwarded the Planned Parenthood records to Johnson County.