TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' spokeswoman confirms
that abortion provider Dr. George Tiller attended a reception last year at the governor's residence.
But spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran disputes an anti-abortion group's description of the event as honoring Tiller.
Corcoran says Sebelius donated a reception at the residence as an item for a fundraising auction for the Greater Kansas City Women's Political Caucus. Tiller purchased it and the event was held April 9, 2007, she said. She said Sebelius didn't control who purchased the item.
The anti-abortion group Operation Rescue contends the event shows close ties between Sebelius and the abortion industry. Operation Rescue published 13 photos on its Web site that it said were taken during the event. Six showed Sebelius standing next to someone identified as Tiller, and two showed her shaking hands with that person.
Sebelius responded to the controversy while at an event in Lawrence Wednesday. She says she often makes donations of a lunch or dinner reception at Cedar Crest to charitable causes, and this was no different. She says Tiller just happened to the be the bidder. She says she does not invite or solicit bids from anyone in particular.
As for allegations she tried to hide the event by not including it on her public schedule, the Governor said receptions are not normally included on the published schedule. She also said the Women's Political caucus reimbursed the costs of the reception.
Kansas Republican Party Chairman Kris Kobach released a statement on the controversy.
“Kathleen Sebelius and Kansas Democrats have received hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions from George Tiller and his associates...Using the taxpayer funded Governor’s mansion to host a true hero is one thing, but using it to host a notorious late-term abortionist is disgraceful," Kobach wrote. "My question to Sebelius is - If Fred Phelps purchased a similar event inside the mansion, would he be welcome too?”
Sebelius, a Democrat, is a strong abortion rights advocate, and she has repeatedly vetoed legislation sought by anti-abortion groups.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.