Phill Kline’s former chief of staff hit with legal ethics complaint

Eric Rucker, Phill Kline’s former top assistant, faces a formal ethics complaint that he made misleading comments before the Kansas Supreme Court.

The state’s disciplinary administrator, who investigates complaints against attorneys, today released the complaint against Rucker, who served as chief of staff when Kline was attorney general.

The complaint alleges that Rucker made misleading comments before the Kansas Supreme Court and used flawed statistics to back up a criminal case.

The allegations stem from Kline’s investigation of abortion clinics. Rucker’s complaint will go before a disciplinary panel in April; the panel will determine whether Rucker violated ethical rules for attorneys and will decide whether to recommend any disciplinary actions to the Supreme Court. Punishment could range from nothing to disbarment.

Rucker could not be reached for comment Monday morning.

Another key Kline deputy, Stephen Maxwell, faces a similar ethics complaint. Like Maxwell, Rucker continued to work for Kline after he left the Attorney General’s office and was appointed Johnson County District Attorney.

The complaint against Rucker alleges that he knew data used to support the investigation of abortion clinics in district court was flawed but took no “action to correct the misrepresentations previously made to the court.”

Also, the complaint accuses Rucker of making false statements before the Kansas Supreme Court.

Rucker represented Kline before the court in 2005. At the time, the court was considering a lawsuit by abortion providers intent on stopping Kline’s investigation. Rucker told the court that his office wasn’t trying to identify adult women who received abortions.

However, the office was reviewing the guest list of a Wichita hotel used by patients of George Tiller, and cross checking it with state abortion data. Investigators were also recording the license plates of cars in Tiller’s parking lot in an attempt to identify their owners.

During a meeting last year with the state’s judicial disciplinary administrator, Rucker said he didn’t know about these efforts during his arguments before the high court. But according to the complaint released today, the disciplinary administrator’s office determined that his explanation was “false and misleading.”

Kline investigated both Tiller’s clinic and a Planned Parenthood clinic in Overland Park, accusing both of violating state restrictions on abortion. So far, none of the cases has resulted in a conviction.