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A professional ethics panel recommended Thursday that former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline have his state law license suspended indefinitely over his conduct during criminal investigations of abortion providers, saying he was "motivated by dishonesty and selfishness."

The three-member panel of the state Board for Discipline of Attorneys said Kline repeatedly misled other officials or allowed subordinates to mislead others, including a Kansas City-area grand jury, to further investigations of abortion providers. The panel also said Kline made a false statement to the office investigating the misconduct claims against him and even attempted to mislead the panel itself as it considered his case.

Kline has strongly disputed the allegations against him and called the complaint politically motivated.

"I upheld my duty, upheld my oath of office and the integrity of my profession," Kline said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. "I will continue to speak and stand for the truth and for those who cannot speak for themselves."

"My 'mistake' was my willingness to investigate politically powerful people and to let that investigation go where the evidence led," he said.

The panel determined some allegations in a complaint against Kline didn't represent violations of the state's rules for attorneys. Those included key criticisms of Kline and his subordinates over their handling of abortion patients' private medical records.

Yet the panel concluded Kline "engaged in a pattern of misconduct" while serving as Kansas attorney general in 2003-07 and as Johnson County district attorney for two years after he lost his bid for re-election to the state office.


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