Topeka, Kansas – During the second day of hearings in the ethics case against former Attorney General and Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline, new details emerged concerning a secret agreement made between the grand jury and Planned Parenthood, which reveal political corruption that irreparably corrupted the grand jury process.
Steve Maxwell, who worked for Kline as an Assistant Attorney General and later as an Assistant District Attorney, told the three-member panel overseeing Kline’s ethics trial that he was “stunned and horrified” to learn of a secret agreement between the grand jury and Planned Parenthood. The agreement was accompanied by two protective orders.
One of the orders prohibited any evidence supplied by Planned Parenthood from being used to prosecute it. That order was signed by Judge Kevin P. Moriarty, who oversaw the grand jury.
In addition, the agreement would have revoked immunity usually extended to grand jurors, making them civilly and criminally liable.
“Planned Parenthood was supposed to be under investigation by this grand jury for alleged criminal activity. It is incomprehensible that they would enter into an agreement with the object of their investigation that would essentially make it impossible for anyone to prosecute. This isn’t just wrong, it’s political corruption at its worst,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.
“In the end Planned Parenthood was the one controlling and subverting that grand jury with the help of political collaborators inside the grand jury process. Those collaborators are the ones who should be held accountable for this gross miscarriage of justice.”
The agreement with Planned Parenthood was made by grand jury foreperson Stephanie Hensel, who filed the ethics complaint against Kline, and Richard Merker, a special prosecutor assigned to the grand jury. Maxwell testified that the other grand jurors did not even know about the agreement until he told them about it.
Once they learned of it, not everyone on the grand jury supported the secret agreement and grand jury transcripts read in court indicated that at least two jurors opposed it.
The agreement would have allowed Planned Parenthood to provide documents of its choosing to the grand jury instead of complying with the one subpoena that had been issued. Planned Parenthood never complied with the subpoena.
In the end, back-room negotiations with Planned Parenthood by Merker and Hensel and other “bizarre behavior” made it impossible to proceed and the grand jury failed to indict Planned Parenthood.
Testimony in yesterday’s hearing indicated that the grand jury was divided and “dysfunctional.” Maxwell testified that it had been taken over by “anti-Kline” people. The grand jury served in the months following an vicious campaign waged by Kline’s political opponents that created a hostile environment for Kline in Johnson County that continues even today.
In addition, grand jury transcripts read during the hearing indicated that Hansel overstated claims of things said by Kline in her complaint against him.
Maxwell and Kline insist that they never attempted to mislead the grand jury. Maxwell admitted that he “made mistakes” in not fully explaining Kansas laws, but that he never made any attempt to deceive them.
“We weren’t trying to pull any punches,” said Kline. “We’re trying to be straight up and honest with what we had.”
The grand jury was convened via a citizen petition circulated by Operation Rescue and a coalition of pro-life groups that alleged Planned Parenthood had conducted illegal late-term abortions and failed to report child sexual abuse. Eventually, Kline charged Planned Parenthood with 107 criminal counts without the grand jury. That case remains active and progressing through the court system.
Kline’s ethics hearing is expected to wrap up on Friday. If the panel determines that Kline violated ethics rules in his investigations of Planned Parenthood and other Kansas abortion businesses, it will make a recommendation to the Kansas Supreme Court who will determine what disciplinary action will be taken.
“There can be no doubt that this ethics case is politically motivated,” said Newman. “It’s hard for people who are not in Kansas to fully understand the hostile and corrupt political environment that Kline’s political enemies created here that made him a whipping boy for their pro-abortion agenda. The Disciplinary Administrator who is prosecuting Kline is a remnant of that corrupt political cabal and now has become more like the vengeance-filled Captain Ahab than one who is truly interested in justice. He is lashing out with his last political breath at the object of his hatred. This entire case against Kline is the final gasp of a shameful political scandal that sought to protect abortionists from accountability under the law at any cost.”
For more information on the secret agreement, read Kline’s motion to enforce the lone subpoena issued by the grand jury.