Here’s the Latest Lawsuit Against Kathleen Kane

"PennsylvaniaAnother 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:

Kathleen Kane Says Her Sister’s Emails Aren’t That Bad — Here’s Why She’s Wrong

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, center, accompanied by with her twin sister, Ellen Granahan, left, departs after her preliminary hearing Monday, Aug. 24, 2015, at the Montgomery County courthouse in Norristown, Pa. Kane is accused of leaking secret grand jury information to the press, lying under oath and ordering aides to illegally snoop through computer files to keep tabs on an investigation into the leak.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, in red, accompanied by with her twin sister, Ellen Granahan, left, departs after her preliminary hearing Monday, Aug. 24, 2015, at the Montgomery County courthouse in Norristown, Pa.

Earlier this month, I attended a unique press conference at the National Constitution Center. (Clearly, this is what was envisioned when this museum was opened.) Ostensibly, it was a presser where Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane introduced Doug Gansler, the former Maryland AG who she was appointing as a special prosecutor to investigate the scandal that’s been dubbed “porngate.”

But it was also a way for Kane — who has been indicted for perjury and conspiracy related to allegedly leaking grand jury info in a tangential scandal — to advance her view: She was being targeted by an old-boys club in Pennsylvania government that wanted to knock down a successful woman who had infiltrated their party.

To prove this point, Kane showed a slideshow of images from emails discovered on state email servers. They were pretty heinous. The first was a series of images mocking the garb of attendees at what appeared to be an African-American high school’s prom or college fraternity formal. (One dude and his date were in matching Allen Iverson Sixers jersey formalwear, and I’m now disappointed I didn’t wear this to my senior prom. Why anyone would mock this is beyond me.) It then progressed to some offensive motivational posters and some straight-up porn. Read more »

Could Kathleen Kane Spoil Hillary Clinton’s Election Chances?

clinton kane

Bloomberg Politics has an article today speculating that Kathleen Kane’s continuing scandal — scandals? It seems multiple, but we’re not sure how they can be separated from each other — might undermine Hillary Clinton’s chances of being elected president in 2016.

The premise seems dubious — it’s been decades since Pennsylvania voted Republican for president, leaving our status as “swing state” mostly mythical. Still everybody plays along.  Read more »

Sam Katz to Produce Kathleen Kane Documentary

Sam Katz, left. Kathleen Kane, right. (Kane photo, AP)

Sam Katz, left. Kathleen Kane, right. (Kane photo, AP)

The producers of Law & Order couldn’t top this if they tried: a gripping drama about a rising star politician whose charges of racism and misbehavior have laid low the careers of several other high-ranking politicians—and who finds herself in a fight for her own political life that she may well lose.

What’s more, the drama is unfolding around us right now, in real life, and documentary filmmaker Sam Katz is planning to tell the whole story. The film, to be called The Kane Mutiny, is about Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane and the myriad scandals surrounding her.

Katz announced the film Thursday afternoon.

“This is very different” from a typical political intrigue, he told Philly Mag. “I want to make a film that people will want to watch, one that opens up a different prism into American politics and government.”

Read more »

AG Kathleen Kane Vows to “Tear Down Old Boys Network”

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane speak during a news conference Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane speaks during a news conference Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Calling a recent report about Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin “the latest example of the ‘old boy’s network’ at work protecting itself,” Pennsylvania’s embattled Attorney General Kathleen Kane said her appointment of a special prosecutor will “tear down this network once and for all.”

“Seldom do the machinations of the ‘old boy’s network’ become so public,” Kane said in a statement. “The people of Pennsylvania would have learned none of this if we hadn’t taken up the fight. They would have learned none of it if the powerful forces aligned against me had succeeded in keeping me quiet. I promise to continue and encourage all citizens to speak up for what is right.” Read more »

Kathleen Kane Appoints Special Prosecutor to Investigate Porn Emails

Kathleen Kane at Constitution Center press conference

Photo | Dan McQuade

When the National Constitution Center broke ground in 2000, its backers could not have imagined what the building would be used for 15 years later: Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane projecting a slideshow of pornography and racist jokes onto a 25-foot-tall screen in its main auditorium.

Kane had the images — the majority of them photos of African-Americans at a formal dance of some kind, with mocking captions — projected onto the screen before today’s big announcement: Kane has appointed former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler as an independent special deputy attorney general to investigate emails sent from state email addresses in the “Porngate” scandal.

“Today you may not be on the list of those that these men looked down upon,” Kane said at the press conference. “But tomorrow, it may be you. It may be your son, it may be your daughter, it may be your neighbor, it may be your coworker. And, to me, that is intolerable, and I will not allow it on my watch — no matter how long that watch lasts.” Kane said those who sent the emails were “stealing our fundamental civil rights.” Read more »

Pa. Senate Moves Closer to Kane Removal; Kane Vows Porngate Crusade

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.


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 »

City Council Women to DA: Fire Porngate Prosecutors

Photo by Jeff Fusco

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 »

Massive Lawsuit Filed Against AG Kathleen Kane, Daily News

Kathleen Kane and Frank Fina. (Kane: Matt Rourke/Associated Press; Fina: Jason Minick/Associated Press)

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 »

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