As expected, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced charges today against three Philadelphia Democrats — taking unusually personal shots at embattled Attorney General Kathleen Kane along the way. Read more »
We’ve officially entered that most wonderful time of year: Ballot Challenge Season.
To get on the May 19th primary ballot, a candidate running for citywide office in Philadelphia must get at least 1,000 voters to sign their nomination petitions. That paperwork must be filed by today, March 10th.
But the signatures can’t come from just anyone: They must be from registered voters of the candidate’s party. Each voter must write out their full name, address and the date on the petition, in addition to their signature. If any of these items are missing or somehow flawed, a candidate is leaving themselves open to a legal challenge from another campaign. Because why beat the competition in an open election when you can eliminate them beforehand?
The “double-dog dare” continues to backfire on Kathleen Kane.
Nearly a year after the attorney general invited Philadelphia D.A. Seth Williams — one of her loudest critics — to try to prosecute the “abandoned sting” of corrupt Philly lawmakers she had decided not to prosecute, despite having recordings of those lawmakers accepting gifts that were never reported to the state. Williams gleefully accepted the offer and not long after started cranking out the prosecutions.
He’ll add three more names to that list today at a news conference where he’ll announce charges against “two current and one former” state representatives. He did not name them, but the Inquirer and Daily News identified the three as State Reps. Louise Williams Bishop and Michelle Brownlee and former State Rep. Harold James, all Democrats from Philly. Read more »
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission approved five out of 39 applications for new charter schools yesterday night at the tail end of a meeting that featured four arrests and lasted five hours. The decision appeared to please no one. One prominent national ed reformer called on SRC Chairman Bill Green to resign, for not approving enough charter applicants. Pretty much simultaneously, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten condemned the decision to approve any new charter schools. Gov. Wolf issued a statement saying his administration “continues to believe that the district’s financial situation cannot responsibly handle the approval of new charter schools.” We haven’t heard yet from Republicans in the General Assembly, but you can bet they would like to have seen more new charters than the five the SRC authorized. Read more »
Attorney General Kathleen Kane has made her case why the Pennsylvania Supreme Court should quash a grand jury that has recommended she face charges related leaking secret case information to the media.
“Kane’s defense attorneys claimed in legal filings Wednesday that Montgomery County Judge William Carpenter had no legal authority to appoint a special prosecutor to lead a grand jury media leak probe,” the Morning Call reports. “Kane’s attorneys say Carpenter could not appoint a special prosecutor with subpoena powers because the state’s special prosecutor law expired in 2003. Such a unilateral appointment would have been illegal under the old law, which said a randomly selected three-judge panel could vote to appoint a special prosecutor, not an individual judge, the legal brief states.”
With tough-on-crime Lynne Abraham and pot-decriminalizer Jim Kenney both running for mayor, is Philadelphia poised to have a serious debate about the criminal justice system in 2015?
Kathleen Kane may be in a fight for her political life, but there’s still business to be done.
Her office said Tuesday it will defend new Gov. Tom Wolf from a lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania Senate Republicans after Wolf fired Erik Arneson, the state’s new open records chief who was given a last-second appointment by then-Gov. Tom Corbett as he left office.
“Our office is representing the Governor’s Office,” Kane spokesman Aaron Sadler told PennLive.
A new grand jury report is calling for weakening the Pennsylvania “Shield Law” that protects journalists from being forced to reveal their confidential sources. Why, you wonder? Surely there must be a good reason for undermining the freedom of the press, right?
The report was provided to the news media by a special prosecutor investigating allegations that Attorney General Kathleen Kane leaked material from a different grand jury to the Philadelphia Daily News. Earlier this month, the special prosecutor subpoenaed two journalists at the Philadelphia Inquirer to try to uncover their sources for a report that a grand jury had recommended charges against Kane. The Inky fought back by invoking Pennsylvania’s awesome Shield Law, one of the strongest in our country.
And now the grand jury wants to blow a hole through that law, by adding a “criminal-fraud” exception for grand jury proceedings. Translation: If someone allegedly violates grand-jury secrecy rules while providing information a reporter, that reporter could be compelled to reveal their source.
— deannadurante (@deannadurante) January 21, 2015
Documents released today by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court confirm that a grand jury has recommended charges be brought against Attorney General Kathleen Kane for the leak of information from an earlier grand jury.
The documents were unsealed as part of a broader court battle involving Kane, who is challenging the authority of the special prosecutor who led the grand jury, as well as the judge who appointed the prosecutor.
“Kane’s defense team argued a Montgomery County judge had no authority to appoint a special prosecutor to run a grand jury under state law and the state constitution’s separation of powers clause prohibits the court from investigating a member of the executive branch, Kane,” The Morning Call reports. “The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied the motion to quash the grand jury and unsealed the records as requested by Kane’s defense lawyers.”
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The scepter still hangs over Kathleen Kane’s head.
It’s been a couple of weeks now since the Inquirer reported that a grand jury recommended the Pennsylvania attorney general be indicted for leaking the secrets of a previous grand jury. And it’s been nearly as long since the Inquirer revealed that two of its reporters had been subpoenaed for the apparent leak of information from Kane’s grand jury.
We’re still waiting to find out if the Montgomery County District Attorney will accept or reject the grand jury’s recommendation. But there’s an obvious absurdity in this scandal, now that we’ve reached the point that a leak about a leak is being investigated.
How did we get to this point, anyway? The answer may be easier to find if we understand Pennsylvania’s grand jury process. We talked with several experts who were unconnected to the Kane case, and would not comment specifically on it — choosing instead to describe the grand jury process in general terms. (We also relied on the Pennsylvania code concerning grand juries.)