Here’s Everything You Need To Know To Vote Today

Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Photo by William Thomas Cain/iStockphoto.com

Happy Election Day! Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

A lot is on the line today in Philadelphia. By voting, you could help decide whether Donald Trump wins the GOP nomination. Or whether an indicted congressman is rewarded with another term. Or who might succeed the embattled Kathleen Kane as Attorney General.

If you still don’t know know who to support — or how to get to your polling place — don’t let that stop you. Just use our nifty guide to surviving Election Day. Here’s everything you need to know: Read more »

Kathleen Kane Stops Pursuing Leak of FBI Recordings

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane departs after her preliminary hearing Monday, Aug. 24, 2015, at the Montgomery County courthouse in Norristown, Pa.

It’s a day that ends in “y,” so that must mean there’s another development in the saga of state Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

The embattled A.G. made a brief court appearance earlier today in Montgomery County, where her legal team dropped a pretrial motion that accused prosecutors of leaking information about an FBI recording of Kane to the Allentown Morning Call earlier this year, according to the Associated Press. (Prosecutors, in turn, had accused of Kane leaking the recording herself. Good times.)

Kane’s attorney, Gerald Shargel, said he doubted that the source of the leak could ever be determined, making the matter an unneeded distraction. Montgomery County Circuit Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy unexpectedly asked Kane to take the stand today to confirm that the she was in agreement with Shargel’s decision. (She was.)  Read more »

Is Josh Shapiro the Guy to Clean Up Kathleen Kane’s Scandal-Ravaged Office?

Josh Shapiro | Photo by Matt Rourke

Josh Shapiro | Photo by Matt Rourke

Pennsylvania Democrats have been excited about Josh Shapiro for over a decade. The 42-year-old Montgomery County career politician has put his stamp on every institution he’s been elected to, and won attention from press and fellow politicians alike. Now he is running to remake the scandal-plagued, post-Kathleen Kane attorney general’s office, despite never having worked a trial.

In next week’s primary, both of Shapiro’s opponents have resumes tailor-made for an attorney general’s race and never miss an opportunity to remind voters that they have the prosecutorial experience Shapiro lacks. Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala and Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli see the office as it has always been: a means of pursuing guns, drugs and the occasional corrupt politician. They are well-equipped for it, having served as district attorney for more than 40 years between them.

But in 2016, perhaps decades of experience during the tough-on-crime era doesn’t have the cachet that it used to, at least in a Democratic primary. As Black Lives Matter ekes out concessions and Clinton-era policy becomes the bête noire of everyone to the left of John Kasich, maybe Pennsylvania voters are ready for something new. Shapiro’s campaign website features an ambitious agenda, covering everything from fracking to wage theft. On the stump, Shapiro — who is nearly always dressed in a conservative blue suit and rimless glasses — energetically reiterates his desire to take on “the status quo” and “the special interests.” His message is polished, and he’s clearly been taking notes on New York’s bank-busting attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, who promised more from the office than a parade of high-profile mug shots.

“It has always been abundantly clear to me that the office could be doing so much more,” says Shapiro in an interview with Philadelphia magazine. “It could be a force for progressive change. About 40 percent of our nation’s AGs weren’t prosecutors before they ran for the office. We’ve never taken that approach. But I really believe the people of Pennsylvania deserve someone with a vision far broader in terms of protecting their rights.” Read more »

Kathleen Kane Appoints Bruce Castor Solicitor General

Kathleen Kane (Bradley C. Bower/AP), left, Bruce Castor (Matt Rourke/AP), right

Kathleen Kane (Bradley C. Bower/AP), left, Bruce Castor (Matt Rourke/AP), right

Well, this is … interesting.

Embattled state Attorney General Kathleen Kane has hired former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor to fill a newly created post in her administration: solicitor general.

Kane’s spokesman, Chuck Ardo, said Kane has been considering adding the position for months, after consulting with other attorney generals who have solicitor generals on staff. In a statement released today, Kane’s office explained that solicitor generals serve as “a check and balance” in executing the AG’s mission.

“Given that her administration was reaching its final months, she wanted to make those as efficient and productive as possible,” Ardo said. “The fact that he’s an experienced prosecutor and knows a little about running an office both played a role in this choice.” Read more »

RE: Porngate — Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin Resigns

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin arrives for a hearing Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, at the Northampton County courthouse in Easton, Pa. to determine whether he should be suspended while a judicial ethics court decides if his email practices warrant discipline.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin arrives for a hearing Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, at the Northampton County courthouse in Easton, Pa. to determine whether he should be suspended while a judicial ethics court decides if his email practices warrant discipline.

The never-ending Porngate saga claimed another victim today, as embattled Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin resigned from office.

“We’ve been struggling with this decision for a long time,” said William Costopoulos, Eakin’s attorney, “but it was the only decision to be made that would help bring closure to this unwarranted and unnecessary scandal.”

Eakin was suspended — with pay — in December  by the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline over inappropriate emails he received and sent from a personal email account. Some of the messages contained jokes that mocked domestic violence victims, blacks and Muslims. Read more »

Grand Jury: 40-Year Coverup of Child Sexual Abuse in Pa. Diocese

Kathleen Kane - AG press conference - Catholic priest sexual abuse

Kathleen Kane speaks at the press conference announcing the results of the grand jury investigation into the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. (Still via web stream)

The details of each allegation seemed more harrowing than the last. Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane today described numerous instances of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese. A grand jury report says this abuse was covered up by two bishops who led the diocese: James Hogan and James Adamec.

“Children reported having their genitals fondled, being forced to participate, watch or permit masturbation, being forced to perform or receive oral sex to or from priests and being anally raped,” Kane said before spending about 15 minutes describing specific allegations from the grand jury. Kane said the grand jury report names more than 50 priests and religious leaders over a 40-year period; there are hundreds of victims. “One victim, now over 50 years old, stated that his life ‘became a living hell,’” she said.

No charges will be filed against the priests or bishops, however, due to a variety of reasons, including the statute of limitations. Additionally, many of the abusers have died; Bishop Hogan died in 2005. Adamec — who retired in 2011 — said though a court filing by his attorney that the allegations are unfounded.

Kane urged the legislature to abolish the statue of limitations in child sexual abuse cases. “Victims need to be heard,” Kane said. “Abolishing this statute would allow these predators to be held accountable until the last day of their lives, because these victims live with it until the last day of their lives.”

Some of the evidence for the grand jury’s report came from secret files Kane said the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese kept in the bishop’s office. “The secret archive was under lock and key,” Kane said, “and only the bishop had a key.” So-called “secret archives” were at the heart of the abuse case in the Archdiocese of PhiladelphiaRead more »

Clinton, Trump Lead Among Pa. Voters

Clinton - Trump - Wolf - Obama

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the leading presidential candidates in Pennsylvania, according to a new Franklin & Marshall poll.

Primary election day is still two months away — April 26 — but Clinton holds a sizable lead over opponent Bernie Sanders among likely voters, 51 percent to 29 percent. Trump’s margin is much lower over a still-divided Republican field: He clocks in a 21 percent of likely Republican voters, compared to 18 percent for Marco Rubio, and 16 percent each for John Kasich and Ted Cruz.

Philadelphia is proving to be bulwarks for both front-runners, according to the poll: Clinton attracts 59 percent of the metro area’s Dems, while Trump commands the support of 50 percent of area Republicans — by far his most concentrated pocket of support in the state.

The survey had an error range of plus or minus 3.1 points. Read more »

5 Takeaways From the Alleged Johnny Doc Brawl

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

The Philadelphia Inquirer broke a bombshell of a story today: John Dougherty, the politically influential labor leader, was in a physical altercation with a nonunion electrician on January 21st at a worksite — but spokesman Frank Keel says Dougherty acted purely in self-defense.

According to Keel, contractor Joshua Keesee threatened Dougherty’s family members, and then Keesee “rushed John and threw a punch” at his head. “John Dougherty ducked the contractor’s punch and countered with a punch to the assailant’s face. That was the end of the incident,” says Keel. “We firmly believe that there should be no criminal or civil charges filed in this matter.” Keesee, though, has another story: He claims that Dougherty took the first hit, and broke his nose in the process.

City police are investigating, according to the Inquirer. District Attorney Seth Williams referred the matter to Attorney General Kathleen Kane, whose office said Tuesday that she “set up a conflict wall regarding the decision to accept or deny the referral and/or initiate charges.” That’s because Dougherty’s electricians union was a donor to her 2013 campaign. There’s a lot to chew on here, lots of potential impacts. Here are five takeaways from the incident: Read more »

Kathleen Kane Won’t Run for Second Term

Kathleen Kane.

Kathleen Kane.

Kathleen Kane, Pennsylvania’s scandal-plagued attorney general, said today she will not run for reelection.

“This was not easy decision,” she said, before announcing. “I am not seeking the Democratic nomination for attorney general.”

She did not take any questions from the media assembled at Scranton for the announcement.

Kane’s law license has been suspended while she awaits trial on criminal charges on allegations she leaked secret grand jury information; she survived an ouster vote by the Pennsylvania Senate last week, but the Pennsylvania House began impeachment efforts. She made no direct mention of the charges, or the broader “Porngate” scandal, instead saying that as a “single mother,” she decided she needed to spend more time with her two teen sons. Read more »

Pa. Senate Vote to Remove Kathleen Kane From Office Fails

AP_kathleen-kane-senate-debate-940x540

Pennsylvania state Sen. John Gordner speaks, during a historic floor debate, in favor of a resolution on whether to remove Attorney General Kathleen Kane from office, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in Harrisburg, Pa. Some senators had challenged Kane’s ability to do her job after the state Supreme Court suspended her law license while she fights criminal charges. Kane had said the Senate’s removal process is unconstitutional. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

After several hours of debate, the Senate failed to remove Attorney General Kathleen Kane from office today. The vote, held under an obscure statute of the Pennsylvania constitution last used in 1891, was 29-19 in favor of removal. A two-thirds majority was needed.

The vote was mostly along party lines, though two senators broke ranks. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, a Republican from the Philadelphia suburbs, voted against removal. Sen. Rob Teplitz, a Democrat, voted in favor of it. “The position is not attorney and/or general,” Teplitz said during the debate. “It is attorney general.”

Debate before the vote was often heated and again broke down among party lines. “We have an attorney general who can’t legally do any of the legal provisions of the Commonwealth Attorneys Act,” Sen. John Gordner said. “The removal of an elected official needs more than just speculation and maybes,” Sen. Sean Wiley said. “I believe her election was a landmark, not an immunity card,” Sen. Lisa Baker said. “My conclusion is that she is impaired beyond redemption.”

Sen. Art Haywood, who represents parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County, spoke passionately against Kane’s removal. “It is the Supreme Court that provided the temporary suspension, so it is the Supreme Court that would make the decision that the temporary suspension is being violated or not,” he said. “It is not for the Supreme Senate to decide, it is for the courts.” Read more »

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