Kathleen Kane never did find evidence that Tom Corbett slowed his Jerry Sandusky probe for political gain. But her investigators, it turns out, found something else: A number of sexually explicit emails by “top staffers” in the attorney general’s office while Corbett was in charge.
For the moment, however, those emails — and who sent them — are being kept from public view.
The case burst into view on Friday, when the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported a judge had issued a stay against the paper's Right-to-Know request seeking release of the explicit material:
The Trib filed the request on July 7, seeking “emails or email attachments” containing “pornographic images” sent by former and current office members on their official state email accounts.
The newspaper asked for such emails that may have been reviewed by Special Deputy Geoffrey Moulton, who examined more than 20 million deleted emails in a look at how then-Attorney General Tom Corbett handled the case of convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky as attorney general. Corbett, a Shaler Republican, is seeking a second term as governor.
Sources tell the Trib the emails exist and that some contain sexually explicit materials intended as humor. They are described as a range of materials from joking comments and caricatures to images of nude adults and sexual situations.
State policy, of course, forbids using government computers to send or receive sexually explicit material. A spokesman for Corbett, who was attorney general during the period covered by the inquest, said Corbett "would not condone" such practices. Corbett is currently running for a second term as governor.
The sources who did speak to PennLive, both of whom would only speak on a not-for-attribution basis because of the sensitive nature of the story, described the images they had seen as graphic and raunchy.
In their view, they could easily have violated Office of Attorney General policies, signed by Corbett, that prohibit the use of state computers to access pornographic or obscene material.
Those same internal policies also state that violations could lead to discipline, including dismissal, though nearly all of Corbett's OAG managers had left their positions by the time Kane, a Democrat, took office in January 2013.
And the Inquirer adds an ominous twist, suggesting that the emails are now connected into a probe of Kathleen Kane's office and whether it improperly leaked secret grand jury information to the Daily News:
The Inquirer and other news organizations have filed Right-to-Know requests with the Attorney General's Office seeking information about those e-mails, but a judge has blocked the office from deciding whether they can be released.
The e-mails have become an issue in connection with the leak inquiry, with some Kane critics arguing that Kane's office is using the threat of their release as a way to silence criticism, sources told The Inquirer.
Bottom line: This is is a story that could be bad both for the governor — his deputies spending government time to snigger at nekkid pictures on the taxpayer's dime is not a nice storyline for him at this time — and the attorney general. As bad a year as both officials seem to be having, it could get even worse yet.