Morrison resigns

Though observers had thought Kansas AG Paul Morrison was digging in to fight for his reputation, he announced his resignation today, effective January 31. Kathleen Sebelius will name his successor.

Chris Biggs, who lost to Phill Kline in 2002, is among those mentioned as being on the short list of candidates to replace Morrison.

The resignation is not altogether surprising, but it is disappointing. As Diane observes, this is the right thing to do for Kansas, and it’s the right thing to have done for the good of the Democratic party. Furthermore, there’s no doubt that Morrison deserved some sort of punishment for carrying on an affair with an employee. He’s accused of some much more serious things, and it would surely have been a distraction for him to be fighting those charges while trying to run his office. That’s why this is, ceteris paribus, good for Kansas. If he did what he’s accused of, he would have been out of office for certain, and rightly so. If so, it’s better that he’s out of office sooner than later. But I’m not incline to think he did all that he’s been accused of. Phill Kline’s filthy fingerprints are all over the story, and I wouldn’t trust him to tell me the time of day.

And that’s where I find this problematic. Resigning now, before laying down a clear marker about who is calling the shots, makes Kline seem like he won some sort of victory. I don’t think he did. I think Governor Sebelius has her eyes on higher office, and doesn’t want to spoil the reputation she’s built up on a long fight over Paul Morrison’s conduct as a (Republican) county DA. I think Morrison hadn’t yet built up political support among Democrats, and lost whatever he once had among Republicans when he switched parties. Kline saw the opportunity and he struck. It was inelegant, but it worked.

Paul Morrison was a good county DA and an effective state AG. I’m inclined to think he is a good man, but the jury is, alas, still out on that count. Whoever replaces him will have big shoes to fill. Because Morrison acted fast, at least his successor won’t have to rebuild the reputation of the AG’s office. Morrison did a lot to restore the public’s faith in the state attorney general, and I think he leaves office with that accomplishment untarnished.

By the way, in covering this story, I’ve made a point of linking to Diane Silver’s blog and Blue Tide Rising. Those two are great resources, and those of you who read TfK for the Kansas politics should be reading them as well. When I started blogging, the progressive blogosphere in Kansas was nowhere near as vibrant as it is now, and I’m proud of them and the other progressive Kansas bloggers for the community they’ve created and maintained.


  1. #1 Jeetzwillager
    December 17, 2007

    When Ms. Carter, likely scared out of her wits, didn’t know where to turn when harassed by phone 22 times in one day, blame Phill Kline for being available to her. But who cares, her side is only alleged.

    When KCTV-5 was stalking Kline’s daughter, blame Phill Kline for telling the reporter to stop following his daughter. And of course don’t blame the reporter for editing that information out. But who cares about a teenager, and besides it is only alleged.

    Some day when a documentary exposes the emotional/physical scars of abortion, be sure to blame Phill Kline. But who cares, those scars are only alleged.

    Where do women turn when they no longer can allege something? Any men other than Phill want to step forward? I’m certain he would welcome the help.

  2. #2 Josh Rosenau
    December 17, 2007

    I have no doubt that lots of folks, men and women, would have been glad to investigate Ms. Carter’s allegations. Kline could have recognized that his involvement would be a conflict of interest, and turned the investigation over to someone else.

    Questions about the impact of abortion will not be resolved by a district attorney nor by a documentary. It will be and has been addressed by serious research, research which finds no measurable impact on long-term mental health.

    And the issue with the daughter was whether Kline himself was lying about where he lived. And it appears that he was. Or at least it was alleged. Should Phill Kline investigate that, too?

  3. #3 Jeetzwillager
    December 17, 2007

    Kline has appropriated funds from JoCo BOCC to turn it over to an independent investigator. So your point is moot.

    Also, you don’t see him boasting Morrison-style, “There’s a new lawman in town.” You don’t see Kline out there bragging about Morrison’s fall from power. Can’t say the same in reverse, eh? Democrats couldn’t hide their glee last year.

    As for Kline’s daughter — how about if I spin it this way. Has anyone been harassing Morrison’s children? Kline’s daughter isn’t any different.

    As for your abortion statement — helps keeps the blog up, doesn’t it?

    Can’t wait for when the allegations go way beyond allegations. Blogs like this are probably already working the spin on how to blame Kline.

  4. #4 Josh Rosenau
    December 17, 2007

    My point would be moot if getting an independent investigator were his first step. But he sat on this story for 9 months. Then he leaked the documents to the Topeka CJ. Kline has nothing to brag about. If he truly thought this was profoundly troubling, he wouldn’t have sat on it. And if he doesn’t think it’s important, and just destroyed Morrison’s reputation out of pique, that hardly reflects well on Kline.

    I don’t deny that I celebrated Morrison’s win at the polls. He won an enormous landslide in a free and fair election. That’s how power is supposed to be transferred. What comparison are you drawing?

    Morrison hasn’t been claiming to live in one place while actually living elsewhere. Why would anyone be following his family? Again, what comparison are you drawing?

    As for “As for your abortion statement — helps keeps the blog up, doesn’t it?”, I honestly don’t know what that question is supposed to be asking. Care to rephrase? Is the claim that this blog focuses on the mental health effects of abortion? How many posts would you estimate I’ve written on that topic in the last 3 years?

  5. #5 jeetzwillager
    December 17, 2007

    You sound like a good little Democrat soldier. Sat on it for nine months, huh? And he isn’t a resident of Johnson County? Boy, you have pretty good sources.

    Carry on.

  6. #6 Josh Rosenau
    December 18, 2007


    Kline knew nine months ago. My sources are the newspapers. What’re your sources? It’s easy to make this into a partisan issue and plug your ears, but my interest is finding out what actually happened. Hopefully that’s your interest as well.

  7. #7 jeetzwillager
    December 18, 2007

    I read that last week.

    The most damning “comment” in that report is that Kline & Maxwell “may” have known about it months earlier. No quotes, no supporting documents. Just a careless statement by reporters trying to purport an angle. In lay terms, we call that conjecture. Maybe even journalist rhetoric, which these days seems to pass off as news reporting.

    If that’s your news source, you’re the the one covering your ears, your eyes, but not you’re mouth.

    Again, carry on.

  8. #8 Josh Rosenau
    December 18, 2007

    Seriously, man, learn to read:

    Carter’s statement indicates she assured Morrison that Kline had the letter since March

    Emphasis added. You can’t stop reading the story halfway through.

  9. #9 jeetzwillager
    December 18, 2007

    From Harris News article:

    “In her statement, Carter said that in July Morrison called her to relay information that Kline had received an anonymous letter about their affair in March. Carter said she told Morrison that she doubted the letter’s existence because she’d not heard of it. She said she assumed Kline would fire her if there were an actual letter.”

    I suggest you learn to evaluate “implied/purported” evidence.

    The information is coming from MORRISON. MORRISON is the one freaking out over a letter he made up in his head.

    Don’t believe it? Read it.

    And Carter is using rational thought saying if it did exist she’d have been fired. Was she fired in March? No she resigned last month.

    So, let’s evaluate and also review the aforementioned paragraph from Harris news, again.

    Morrison “thinks” there is an anonymous letter because someone told him that one existed. He probably freaked out, checked his desk for bugs, etc. (Basically, someone buffaloed him into exposing himself — pretty funny in my book!)

    Carter calmed him down using a rational conclusion. Kline? He’s no where to be found other than the reporter who inserted his name in this article and tries to mislead with the clever early statement about …”may have known months earlier.”

    Some of us aren’t fooled.

    Read it again, Inspector Clouseau. Try and evaluate something rather than read “March,” “Kline” & “letter,” and then go about forming your own sentences.

    Later, Mr. Comprehension

  10. #10 jeetzwillager
    December 19, 2007

    This is your blog and you can do anything you want with it. But when a story is used to “flip” the accusations, then any source who links to it is discredited.

    By the way, I too have a copy of the letter. And the medical records. And the EEOC complaint. Even letters that haven’t even been written yet. Enjoy the view. (smile)

  11. #11 Josh Rosenau
    December 21, 2007

    You should really read to the end of that article. I’ll pick up where you left off:

    A few days later, Morrison called Carter again to say that a former assistant district attorney had heard a letter had been sent to the district attorney’s office in March and eventually was turned over to Kline.

    After receiving Morrison’s second call, Carter called Kline, according to her statement, and asked whether he had received a letter in March. Kline replied that he’d only read the first paragraph before making a conscious decision to read nothing further.

    Carter says that Kline knew for 9 months, and did nothing. Now, whatever he did or didn’t read, he was aware of this since March according to… Carter’s statement. If you are going to make a big deal out of the sourcing of things, and to question people’s credibility over that matter, it really does behoove you to get your own sourcing right.

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