Archive for Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kansas Governor-elect Sam Brownback picks Jefferson County attorney Caleb Stegall as general counsel

December 28, 2010, 10:09 a.m. Updated December 28, 2010, 2:53 p.m.


— A northeast Kansas county prosecutor who's previously represented missionaries detained in Haiti and former Attorney General Phill Kline will be Gov.-elect Sam Brownback's top staff lawyer.

Jefferson County Attorney Caleb Stegall will become the general counsel for the governor's office when Brownback is sworn in Jan. 10. He referred questions Tuesday to Brownback's transition team, after the governor-elect issued a statement saying he's pleased that Stegall agreed to join the administration.

"Caleb will bring strong legal experience to the governor's office," Brownback said.

It's the second time in less than a week that someone with a tie to Kline, a Republican who became a national figure for investigating abortion providers, has been named to an important job in state government. Last week, Secretary of State-elect Kris Kobach announced that he'd picked Kline's former top deputy as assistant secretary of state.

But Stegall, a Republican like Brownback, also received national attention earlier this year for representing four Baptist missionaries detained in Haiti after being charged with child trafficking for trying to take 33 children out of that nation. His clients included a youth pastor from Topeka.

Most of the missionaries, including Stegall's clients, were jailed for three weeks in Haiti but released, returning to the U.S. without facing the charges. They said they were told the children were orphans whom they'd planned to take them to the Dominican Republic to care for them at a hotel there. The Associated Press determined that the children still had parents, however.

Stegall represented Kline in a legal dispute with a Planned Parenthood clinic in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, over Kline's attempts to pursue criminal charges that the clinic performed illegal abortions and falsified reports about some procedures to the state, which it denies. Stegall also initially represented Kline in professional disciplinary proceedings stemming from his investigations of abortion providers.

Kline, a Republican, was attorney general in 2003-07, and, after he lost his bid for re-election, Johnson County district attorney in 2007-08. He filed the criminal case against Planned Parenthood's clinic as district attorney, and it's still pending, though legal disputes kept it from moving forward. A disciplinary hearing for Kline is scheduled for February on allegations that he made false statements and allowed subordinates to mislead other state officials during investigations of abortion providers. Kline strongly disputes the accusations, calling them politically motivated.

Stegall also represented Eric Rucker, who served as Kline's top deputy both in the attorney general and Johnson County district attorney's office, when Rucker faced a disciplinary complaint.

In August, a state panel informally admonished Rucker for not correcting information provided to the Kansas Supreme Court about Kline's abortion investigations. But he'd initially been accused of more serious misconduct, and Stegall described the outcome as a vindication of Rucker. Kobach said Rucker had been "completely exonerated" as he appointed him his top assistant.

In 2008, Stegall also represented four Wyandotte County residents in an unsuccessful lawsuit seeking to block construction of a state-owned casino at Kansas Speedway, the NASCAR track in Kansas City, Kan.

Stegall, 39, is a Lawrence native who now lives in Perry, about 10 miles to the northwest. He received his law degree from the University of Kansas in 1999 and was elected Jefferson County attorney in 2008. Republicans in the county will name a replacement for him once he joins Brownback's administration.


amesn 7 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Fossick 7 years, 3 months ago

Seems to me we have some issues with reading comprehension.

stuckinthemiddle 7 years, 3 months ago

you're correct... at least about me... I was confused by the headline and did not read the article closely enough... thank you for pointing that out...

still... not thrilled about the Kline connection...

sciencegeek 7 years, 3 months ago

Not the only Kline connection, either...remember Eric Rucker?

overthemoon 7 years, 3 months ago

NOT KLINE. Lawyer connected to Kline. READ IT!

ebyrdstarr 7 years, 3 months ago

Brownback didn't pick Phill Kline to be general counsel; he picked Caleb Stegall, Phill Kline's attorney, to be general counsel.

homechanger 7 years, 3 months ago

No doubt. The article is about Caleb Stegall.

amesn 7 years, 3 months ago

The way I understand it from the headline and the opening sentence is that Brownback picked both to be his general counsel. Idk...maybe I'm comprehending it wrong though.

matchbox81 7 years, 3 months ago

Yup, unclear headline, with unclear story.

Fossick 7 years, 3 months ago

Mostly because the writer worked so hard to shoehorn Phill Kline's name in as much as possible.

wmathews 7 years, 3 months ago

Yikes — you guys are right. I fixed the headline.

Whitney Mathews Assistant Community Editor for Online

Jimo 7 years, 3 months ago

"Kansas Governor-elect Sam Brownback picks Phill Kline, Jefferson County attorney Caleb Stegall as general counsel"

This is a poor and confusing headline. How about "Brownback selects as Governor's general counsel Caleb Stegall, Jefferson County D.A., attorney for Phill Kline."

Of course, insisting on noting the link to Kline, apparently only a professional connection, is like introducing John Adams as "Redcoat attorney." Stegall has been known for breaking with much of traditional conservatism's 'cafeteria style,' pick-and-choose' emphasis/ignorance of religious values by taking stands to aid the poor and support the environment. He's probably closer to a European model of Catholic Social Conservatism, combing both a pro-traditional family, anti-abortion viewpoint along with the (often overshadowed) social justice doctrine.

This should fit well with Brownback's occasional deference to Roman Catholic social teaching (however limited his deference must be to his wingnut allies' - and banker's - demand for social Darwinism).

guess_again 7 years, 3 months ago

Stegall was also the person who gave a job to former chief Kline assistant Eric Rucker, when Rucker couldn't find a paycheck anywhere else.

You remember Eric Rucker, who narrowly kept his law license, after hounding Dr. Tiller for years as Klines chief partner in lies. He was named this week as the chief counsel to incoming secretary of state "our elections are full of fraud" Kolbach.

Raiden 7 years, 3 months ago

fear not....the more this Brownshirt, I mean Brownback debacle unfolds the more terrified I am for how they will set back any gains Kansas made....probably by decades...but what should we expect from a Washington C Street neo-con hypocrite whose personal mandate is self-interest without a shred of compassion or care for any person who doesn't "believe" his twisted, perverted faith? We are in for some dark, regressive, oppressive times.

always4ever 7 years, 3 months ago

I know people who work with him in JF Co who say he isn't. They gave me examples and I believe them.

Raiden 7 years, 3 months ago

just because he may seem nice doesn't mean his intentions/values/isms aren't mean-spirited. One can be both.

overthemoon 7 years, 3 months ago

This appointment requires no confirmation from the legislature, I take it?

I knew it was going to be bad. But its getting to be worse than I had even dared dream. Looks like we're going to be lapping Virginia with stupid appointments. Is this guy going to go 'train' with Cuccinelli??

kernal 7 years, 3 months ago

The people voted for what they think they want and Brownback is picking the people he wants. No surprises.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 3 months ago

If the election of this governor goes as badly as I (and others) think, the people of this state have no one to blame but themselves. The same can be said for the horrors, excesses and costs of the GWB administration. The people bought it, now we live with it and pay for it. We are closer to the central premises of "1984" and "Brave New World" than we have ever been. The only difference is that breeding isn't by artificial means, but women will be forced into being breeding machines. I remember reading both of those books when I was in junior high and having the daylights scared from me. Too bad more people don't read them now. And to all of you Ayn Rand Liberterians out there; 1. Freedom is never "free" and 2. "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Benjamin Franklin Have fun being owned by the Koch brothers, all you little slaves.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

1984 was a remarkable book.

Many of the central themes of the book are clearly noticeable in politics today - one of my favorites is the way in which allies and enemies shift positions, and people don't even notice it.

For example, we were allied with Russia against Germany in WWII, and then all of a sudden in the '50's Russia became our enemy.

More recently, we were allies with Hussein against Iran, and then he became our enemy.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 3 months ago

"1984" was required reading in high schools for a long time. In fact, I was required to read "Animal Farm" which is what led me to "1984". It's pretty telling that not only is it no longer required reading, you would be hard put to find it on a school library's shelves.

Carol Bowen 7 years, 3 months ago

This article has no focus. Why am I looking at Kline's picture? Half of the article is about Kline instead of Caleb Stegall. And the grammar is so bad, even I can tell. For example,

"They said they were told the children were orphans whom they'd planned to take them to the Dominican Republic to care for them at a hotel there. "

Very poor journalism. BTW, why is the article dated Dec.. 28?

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