The recent announcement that two top aides to former Attorney General Phill Kline will work in high levels of the new Republican administrations faced criticism Tuesday.
Governor-elect Sam Brownback (R) announced Jefferson County Attorney Caleb Stegall to serve as Chief Counsel on Tuesday and incoming Secretary of State Kris Kobach announced Eric Rucker as Assistant Secretary of State.
Klene, who served as Attorney General from 2002 – 2006 and later as Johnson County district attorney was a controversial figure for his aggressive prosecution under abortion laws, critics saying he violated privacy rights, and currently faces disciplinary action by the legal ethics committee.
Executive Director of the Kansas Democratic party Kenny Johnston criticized the selections, saying, “This is the resurrection of Phill Kline…It turns out the ‘new’Republican Party is the same as the old Republican Party, more interested in their own divisive social agenda then rebuilding our state’s economy, providing world-class schools for our children and creating jobs for everyday Kansans.”
Democratic House Minority Leader Paul Davis added, “The appointment of Caleb Stegall and Eric Rucker mean the return of Phill Kline extremism in state government, plain and simple… Our state would be better served if the newly elected GOP administration followed the example of moderate leaders such as Governors Graves, Sebelius and Parkinson when making powerful political appointments. Resurrecting the radical era of Phill Kline-style politics does nothing but turn back the clock.”
A spokesperson for Brownback defended Stegall’s appointment as Brownback’s general council saying Stegall will not be involved with policy making, that he is simply the Governor’s lawyer.
The spokesperson pointed out that Stegall had top honors from Kansas University Law School and served as a clerk for the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
A spokesperson for Kobach said Rucker was highly qualified as Rucker has worked as Assistant Attorney General in the past and would bring efficiency to the office.
Rucker has worked in the Secretary of State’s office and for Kline at the Attorney General’s office. Rucker was informally admonished by the legal ethics administrator for failing to correct information given to the court during his involvement with investigations of abortion providers. Stegall was hired to defend both Kline and Rucker in the ethics complaints.
Both Stegall and Rucker will move into their new roles after Brownback and Kobach are sworn in on January 10, 2011.