A bipartisan committee has ruled the Pennsylvania Senate does have the power to remove Attorney General Kathleen Kane from office, and urged that body to move forward with a hearing investigating the possibility. The committee, which voted 5-2 on the ruling posted on the Senate website earlier today, did not recommend if Kane should be removed from office.
Kane, a Democrat, had her law license suspended in September after she was indicted on perjury and conspiracy charges this summer. Gov. Tom Wolf supported the Senate panel inquiry, and has said in the past he wants Kane to step down from office.
Kane has said she will not resign from office, and that the suspension of her law license does not impede her ability to do her job. Law professors told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette they wondered if Kane could effectively do her job without a license. Read more »
Photo by Jeff Fusco
This morning, as promised, the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women held a press conference in City Council’s Caucus room in City Hall to release a statement (not a resolution, they were sure to clarify) demanding that the office of Philadelphia DA Seth Williams fire three of its prosectors who were part of the porngate email chain: Frank Fina, Marc Costanzo and Pat Blessington.
The statement, which was signed by all five female Council members, noted that “The emails which these men forwarded reportedly include women in compromising sexual situations with captions indicating advancing in the work place requires such acts, depiction of African American babies as violent from infancy, and stereotyping and ridiculing of gay men.” The statement takes specific aim at Fina, “whose involvement in prosecuting sex crimes makes this behavior all the more disgraceful.” Read more »
Kathleen Kane and Frank Fina. (Kane: Matt Rourke/Associated Press; Fina: Jason Minick/Associated Press)
A group of former prosecutors involved in the Pennsylvania porngate scandal have sued Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane, Philadelphia Media Network — as well as one of its newspapers, the Daily News — and Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Chris Brennan in federal court.
The prosecutors, who include Frank Fina, say Kane retaliated against them for “exposing” her alleged lawbreaking. They accuse her of leaking grand jury information and defaming several of the plaintiffs by accusing them on CNN of viewing child pornography, among other things.
“Upon assuming office,” the lawsuit reads, “Defendant Kane has misused the power of her office, and its publicly funded resources, for the purpose of silencing her critics through a pattern of intimidation, attempted blackmail, and vindictive retaliation against those persons who have lawfully exposed Defendant Kane’s falsehoods, unlawful activities, and violations of her oath of office.”
The plaintiffs are Frank Noonan, Rick Sheetz, Randy Feathers, Fina and Marc Costanzo. Noonan was the Pennsylvania AG’s chief of criminal investigations and, later, state police commissioner. Sheetz was a career prosecutor who worked under Tom Corbett. Feathers was a longtime narcotics investigator who most recently was a member of the state’s parole board. Read more »
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin. | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP
Good morning, Philadelphia. Here’s what you need to know today:
Porngate investigator Robert Graci stepped down after the Daily News revealed that he once campaigned for Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin, a/k/a the guy he was supposed to be investigating.
“Maybe State Attorney General Kathleen Kane was right about that old-boys’ network in Pennsylvania politics,” the Daily News reports. “Apparently, it even reaches into the state Supreme Court. Wednesday, the chief counsel for the state’s Judicial Conduct Board stepped aside from an investigation into a Supreme Court justice’s raunchy emails after the Daily News reported that he was a friend of the justice’s and had played a lead role in his re-election campaign.”
All of the women on City Council are holding District Attorney Seth Williams’ feet to the fire over Porngate.
The women of City Council are joining with the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization of Women on Thursday to condemn “the demeaning, misogynistic and racist emails” swapped by former state prosecutors who now work for Williams, Philly Mag’s Citified reports. After conducting a review of the email chain this summer, Williams said he wouldn’t fire the prosecutors and would instead only force them to undergo “sensitivity training.” Council members Cindy Bass and Maria Quiñones-Sánchez said this week the prosecutors should be canned. “These people make judgement calls on people’s lives every single day,” said Sánchez. “There’s so much questioning of our judicial system, from the police to the attorney general, and we don’t need to further complicate that with the perception that people making decisions about which cases go to trial think it’s okay to do what they did.” Read more »
Kathleen Kane will face trial on charges she perjured herself before a grand jury last year, a judge ruled today.
At a preliminary hearing today, Montgomery County Judge Cathleen Kelly Rebar ruled charges of perjury, false swearing and obstruction could move forward. Those charges, which include felony perjury, stem from an investigation into grand jury leaks — and are in addition to previous leak-related charges in which Kane had already been ordered to face trial.
In this particular case, prosecutors allege Kane lied before a grand jury when testifying about the leak of material from a separate grand jury in 2009. Read more »
A report commissioned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on the Porngate email scandal surrounding current Justice Michael Eakin has urged the court to do nothing — for now, at least.
“After thoroughly reviewing the emails submitted … it is our opinion that there has been no conduct which would constitute the type of extraordinary circumstances to warrant the exercise of the Court’s supervisory authority to take immediate independent disciplinary action against Justice Eakin as a result of the emails that we have reviewed,” says the report from the firm of Joseph Del Sole, a Pittsburgh attorney and former Superior Court judge. Del Sole says the Court should wait for the investigation of the state’s Judicial Conduct Board. Read more »
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane speaks with members of the media after her arrangement before a district judge, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, in Collegeville, Pa. Prosecutors added a new perjury count and other criminal charges Thursday against Kane, saying they found a signed document that contradicts her claims she never agreed to maintain secrecy of a grand jury investigation in 2009, before she took office. The Montgomery County district attorney charged her with felony perjury and two misdemeanors — false swearing and obstruction — based on a signed secrecy oath she signed shortly after taking office in early 2013. AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Good morning Philadelphia, and happy National American Beer Day. Here’s what you need to know today.
The Pennsylvania Senate has appointed a panel to consider booting troubled A.G. Kathleen Kane from office.
Kane’s law license was suspended last week while she faces criminal charges on accusations she leaked secret grand jury information for political gain. The new Senate panel “ will be tightly focused on whether that change in Kane’s status significantly impairs her ability to carry out her personal duties or the function of the Attorney General’s office,” PennLive reports. A preliminary report is due within 30 days.
Read more »
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane speaks with members of the media after her arrangement before a district judge, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, in Collegeville, Pa..
The Pennsylvania Senate will look into removing embattled Attorney General Kathleen Kane from office, Senate democratic leader Jay Costa said today. And Gov. Tom Wolf is on board with the plan.
“As Governor Wolf has said for months, he believes Attorney General Kane can no longer serve as attorney general and has called for her to resign,” Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan emailed. “With her law license now suspended, the governor’s administration has been engaged with Senate leadership to discuss ensuring that the citizens of Pennsylvania have an effective and properly functioning Office of Attorney General.” Read more »
Photo by Jeff Fusco
Good morning, Philadelphia. Here’s what you need to know today:
The Philadelphia School District has to borrow money to keep the lights on.
The budget logjam in Harrisburg has left the school district nearly broke. Officials say they will soon need to borrow money to keep schools open, but it’s unclear exactly how much funding they will seek or what the debt service will cost. “You have to find someone who’s willing to lend you the money,” says district spokesman Fernando Gallard. “And you gotta figure out how much they’re willing to lend you, and what are the rates and all the requirements they have.” NewsWorks reports that the district borrowed $275 million at the beginning of the school year, at the cost of $1 million in debt service. Read more »
Good morning, Philadelphia. Here’s what you need to know today.
• The more trouble Kathleen Kane has, the more “Porngate” emails she releases.
The same day she was hit with a second perjury charge in her grand jury secrecy case, Kathleen Kane’s office turned over 1,500 previously unreleased “Porngate” emails to the Judicial Conduct Board — these emails associated with an account belonging to Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin.
Kane said the email account contained “racial, misogynistic pornography” and told the Associated Press: “That means that your system, your criminal justice system that you think you have and you think you deserve is not working properly.” The scandal may not end for a long time, yet; there are still a reported 6,000 emails that her office has not yet released. Read more »