Another day, another set of problems for Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
This time, it’s a federal lawsuit by two agents of the office — Michael Carlson and Michael Cranga — who say she unfairly denigrated their work on the so-called “abandoned sting” case, then denied them promotions as the matter spiraled into a multilayered scandal that came to include the “Porngate” affair.
The lawsuit seeks to hold Kane “accountable for maliciously and wantonly retaliating against them in violation of the First Amendment,” lawyers for the pair said in the complaint filed Monday.
A Kane spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit to the Morning Call.
The two agents said they worked on the case that caught Philadelphia lawmakers on tape accepting gifts from a confidential informant. Kane, when she entered office, did not pursue the investigation: It came to light in an Inquirer story in 2014. Kane, it seems, believed the story could be traced back to Frank Fina, a former lawyer in the attorney general’s office who went to serve in the Philadelphia district attorney’s office.
“Ms. Kane responded by publicly claiming that the investigation had been deeply flawed and tainted by racism, thus impugning the reputations of Agent Carlson and Agent Cranga,” the lawsuit states. “Believing that Mr. Fina was the source for the article, Ms. Kane declared ‘war’ on Mr. Fina and those she associated with him, including Agent Carlson and Agent Cranga.”
That war included denying the men promotions, then sweeping them up in the “Porngate” scandal, in which they say Kane damaged reputations of a disfavored few, while protecting the reputations of others — like her sister — who were also involved in swapping inappropriate emails.
They ask for the promotions they were denied, as well as unspecified further damages.
See the full complaint below: