Attorney General Paul Morrison stepped down from a position to which he was elected just over a year ago, "not because I have ever done anything contrary to the laws of this state or the ethical standards of my profession, but because law enforcement should be the focus of this office, not my personal life."
He will step down on January 31st, 2008, a date which will allow him to finish prosecuting the Jodi Sanderholm murder case in Cowley County.
"Because of my actions in my personal life, many people have stopped believing in me which is damaging the office, my staff and the State," Morrison said.
"My actions caused pain and Sadness to many people I love," the Attorney General continued. "After careful thought and deliberation, I have concluded that my resignation is in the best long-term interests of the of the people of Kansas."
The resignation comes after revelations of an affair between Attorney General Paul Morrison and a former staffer, Linda Carter, coupled with her allegations of sexual harassment and attempts by Morrison to use his influence in a federal investigation against Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline.
Governor Sebelius, who had said earlier this week that the Attorney General should resign if the allegations that he tried to interfere with a federal investigation are proven true, said she "respect(s) Paul Morrison's decision to step down as Attorney General," and that "Kansans are are grateful to Paul for his twenty-seven years in law enforcement, serving the people of Kansas.'
According to Kansas law, the Governor now will appoint Morrison's replacement, provided that individual meets the state's qualifications for attorney general, who will serve the duration of the term."
Carter asserted that Morrison tried to persuade her to write letters on behalf of eight former employees fired by Kline after he took over the District Attorney's seat from Morrison, who had defeated Kline last November in the race for Attorney General.
Morrison had denied both the charges that he harassed Carter and that he weighed in on the Federal investigation into Kline.
According to Carter's account, the affair began in September 2005 and lasted about two years, while Morrison was running for attorney general and after he took office.
Reactions to Atty. Gen. Morrison's announcement:
Reacting to Morrison's announcement, Kansas House Speaker Melvin Neufeld (R-Ingalls) said the Attorney General's resignation was "in the best interest of the State of Kansas and his family.
"Kansas needs an attorney general who can focus on the duties of the office and the legal needs of the state. It is clear this is not possible for Mr. Morrison to do."
Neufeld added that he sees no need for the Kansas legislature to get involved with any of the pending investigations., but that the legislature may want to look into the procedures for filling vacancies."