The Incredibly Simple Way to Fix the Attorney General’s Office

Attorney General Kathleen Kane arrives at a news conference Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, in Philadelphia.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane arrives at a news conference Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, in Philadelphia.

Quick poll: Who here thinks we can solve the problems that ail the state Attorney General’s office by making Pennsylvania’s political culture more like Philly’s?

Anyone? Anyone?

The question is asked because that’s precisely what G. Terry Madonna and Michael Young recommend in an op-ed making the rounds of state newspapers this week. Not in so many words, but the effect is the same: They suggest that Kathleen Kane’s troubles in office are a problem of politics — and the solution is to create a “resign to run” requirement for that office, forcing the incumbent to quit if he or she chooses to run for another post.

Which is exactly the same requirement that members of City Council face when they want to run for mayor — or any other elected office — aside from the one they hold. Now, it’s been about a decade since Councilman Rick Mariano left office in disgrace, and a little longer yet since an FBI bug was found in John Street’s office, but does anybody really want to claim that the city’s political culture has been exemplary since then? Or that “resign to run” is the reason we haven’t seen any criminal prosecutions at City Hall lately?

Anyone? Read more »

Here’s the Just-Unsealed Grand Jury Report on Kathleen Kane

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A Montgomery County judge today released a grand jury report that recommends Attorney General Kathleen Kane face charges in the leaking of documents from an earlier grand jury investigation.

“We find that the testimony of Attorney General Kane was not an honest account of the events, and she mischaracterized events to cover-up activities undertaken at her direction to unlawfully release documents subject to grand jury secrecy,” the grand jury said in its presentment, dated December 19, 2014. (See the full document below.)

The grand jury recommended she face charges of perjury, false swearing, abuse of office, obstruction of the law, and contempt of court. Read more »

Kane Back in Court Today

Kathleen Kane

Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane is going back to court this today — this time to challenge a judge’s inquiry into her firing of a key staffer.

CBS Philly reports:

Judge William Carpenter is overseeing a grand jury investigation into allegations that Kathleen Kane’s office leaked secret information. He thinks she may have fired her deputy, James Barker, because of his testimony in the case.

That might violate a protective order that covers grand jury witnesses. Carpenter assembled the three-judge panel to hear whether she could be charged with “indirect contempt of court,” but Kane’s lawyers filed motions challenging the proceeding.

AP adds:

They want Carpenter to recuse himself, saying he’s biased against Kane, and they say his order barring retaliation expired before Barker was fired. In any case, Kane says Barker’s firing wasn’t retaliation.

The hearing is expected to get under way this morning.

Former Ed Rendell Aide Joins Kathleen Kane’s Office

Attorney General Kathleen Kane walks from the State Supreme Court room, Wednesday, March 11, 2015, at City Hall in Philadelphia.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane walks from the State Supreme Court room, Wednesday, March 11, 2015, at City Hall in Philadelphia.

Kathleen Kane’s tenure the attorney general has become — let’s not kid ourselves — so disastrous that the arrival of Chuck Ardo as her new spokesman feels a bit like the appearance of Winston Wolf in Pulp Fiction: Hey! The grownups are in charge again!

But, you know, it might come back to bite her, too. Read more »

Former Agent Sues Kane

Attorney General Kathleen Kane walks from the State Supreme Court room, Wednesday, March 11, 2015, at City Hall in Philadelphia.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane walks from the State Supreme Court room, Wednesday, March 11, 2015, at City Hall in Philadelphia.

A former state undercover agent is suing Attorney General Kathleen Kane, saying she distorted his role in the infamous sting operation that caught Philadelphia Democrats accepting money and gifts from a confidential informant, the Inquirer reports.

Claude Thomas pretended to be the driver for Tyron Ali, the informant, and chauffeured Ali to meetings in a confiscated BMW. He takes offense at the reasons Kane offered for canceling the sting operation. Read more »

Kathleen Kane Crosses a Final Line

Attorney General Kathleen Kane walks from the State Supreme Court room, Wednesday, March 11, 2015, at City Hall in Philadelphia.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane walks from the State Supreme Court room, Wednesday, March 11, 2015, at City Hall in Philadelphia.

That’s it. Kathleen Kane is over, or should be at any rate.

Not officially, of course. We don’t know yet if Montgomery County D.A. Risa Vetri Ferman will accept a grand jury’s recommendations and bring charges against her for leaking grand jury information to the Philadelphia Daily News. There’s always a chance Ferman decides the scandal is overblown, do us all a favor, and walk away without putting us through the spectacle of the state’s chief law enforcement officer being put on trial.

Politically, though, she’s done. And she should be. Her missteps are too numerous, too embarrassing, too hackish to amount to much more than political malpractice.  Read more »

Kane Fires Official Who Testified Against Her

Kathleen Kane

Not sure how this helps Attorney General Kathleen Kane escape the scandals besetting her administration: She has fired James Barker, the official whose testimony reportedly helped lead a grand jury to recommend charges against her. A spokesman said the office is undergoing a “restructuring.”

The Tribune-Review reports:

Barker told the Tribune-Review he testified before a statewide grand jury in Norristown that investigated Kane. He said he was under a “protective order” that was supposed to prevent retaliation against witnesses.

“I don’t believe I did anything wrong,” Barker said. “I don’t know why I was fired. My firing was the first anyone heard anything about a restructuring” of the criminal division, he said.

Asked if he would file a lawsuit to contest his firing, Barker said, “I guess that’s something I’d have to think about.”

Read more »

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