George Tiller Hearing Vindicates Phill Kline on Abortion, Media Owe Him Apology

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 8, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

George Tiller Hearing Vindicates Phill Kline on Abortion, Media Owe Him Apology

by Cheryl Sullenger
January 8, 2009 Note: Cheryl Sullenger is the Senior Policy Advisor for Operation Rescue, a Kansas-based pro-life group that has been helping to lead the efforts to expose late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller and hold him accountable for potentially violating state law.

One doesn’t need a law degree to know that the first rule of questioning a witness on the stand is to never ask a question you don’t know the answer to.

Tiller’s attorney, Dan Monnat, got a painful lesson in that simple courtroom wisdom during his questioning of Linda Carter on Wednesday.

Carter is the ex-lover of disgraced former attorney general Paul Morrison, who resigned after news of the affair, and his attempts to use his leverage with Carter to impede Kline’s abortion investigations became public. Carter and Morrison began their relationship when Morrison served as Johnson County District Attorney, where Carter was also employed.

Monnat asked Carter if she was aware of a person named Kelly Summerlin, and charges she levied against Paul Morrison, which resurfaced during the 2006 campaign for the office of Kansas attorney general which pitted Morrison against incumbent Phill Kline.

Summerlin was a former employee of District Attorney Paul Morrison at the Johnson County DA’s office who filed two lawsuits – one for sexual harassment – against Morrison. According to a radio interview given by her in 2006, Morrison made a drunken pass at her at a party in Overland Park in 1991.

She recalled Morrison telling her, "Don’t get me wrong. I love my wife and kinds, but I’m really attracted to you, and what are we going to do about it?"

Summerland said that his remarks made her very uncomfortable, and she rebuffed his romantic advance.

Summerlin attempted to put the incident behind her, but as time passed, actions and comments made by Morrison made her work environment increasingly hostile.

"I knew he couldn’t stand seeing me every day because he knew what he did," said Summerlin during the interview.

Later, Morrison gave Summerlin one week to either quit or be fired. She decided to fight.

Summerlin filed two suits against Morrison, but during the litigation, Morrison took actions that Summerlin that frightened and intimidated her when she found that he had contacted the biological grandparents of a baby Summerlin and her husband were trying to adopt. She wondered, "How far will this man go?"
One of Summerlin’s suits was dismissed. The sexual harassment suit was settled out of court "for peace of mind," according to Summerlin.

During the 2006 attorney general campaign, Morrison portrayed himself as a dedicated husband and family man "without of hint of scandal." Kline called him on that, mentioning the Summerlin case.

Indignant, Morrison’s wife, Joyce, held a press conference denouncing Kline stating, "I don’t know when Phill Kline lost his moral compass."
Morrison campaign ads condemned Kline’s broaching of the Summerlin subject "sleezy – bottom feeder politics." Morrison continued to mislead the public by saying he won the Summerlin case and that there was no basis to her accusations. The Wichita Eagle and the Kansas City Star both unmercifully lambasted Kline for mentioning Summerlin. Kline eventually lost his bid for re-election, in part because of these public attacks on him.

During yesterday’s dramatic courtroom testimony from Linda Carter, (who ironically happened to be in an active adulterous sexual relationship with Morrison during that hotly contested 2006 election campaign), Monnat asked Carter if was aware of the Summerlin case, and if Morrison had ever said anything to her about the truth of Summerlin’s charges.

"Yes, he told me the charges were true," said Carter. There was stunned silence in the courtroom.

So, Summerlin and Kline were both right. Morrison had lied to the public about Summerlin and aired patently false campaign ads attacking Kline that influenced the election. The state’s newspapers almost rabid criticism of Kline, both in news stories and on the editorial pages, was completely unfounded.

Kline testified on Tuesday that after the 2006 campaign, he received a call from Joyce Morrison, Paul’s wife, apologizing for comments she made that were critical of him during that now infamous press conference. She had apparently discovered the truth about her husband, and had the strength of character to admit she was wrong to attack Kline in such a way.

In the end, if the public had heeded the red flag raised by Kline when he mentioned the Summerlin case, perhaps Kansas would have been spared the most unseemly scandal in the state’s history.

Monnat’s question to Carter likely hurt Tiller’s case, which hinges on discrediting Kline in order to persuade the court to suppress evidence against Tiller that was gathered by Kline when he was the attorney general. Instead, it showed that Kline is in fact a man of integrity and honesty that does not deserve the harsh treatment in the press that he still endures today. That is certainly something, given his obvious disdain for Kline, that will cause Monnat to rue the question.

Linda Carter’s brave testimony leaves little doubt. It’s time that the Eagle and the Star to release their misguided vendetta that has led to years of what amounts to character assassination against Kline. The should, for the sake of what is decent, follow Joyce Morrison’s example and apologize to both Summerlin and Kline.

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