Prosecutors One Step Closer to Seeing Fattah’s Emails

Chaka Fattah | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

Chaka Fattah | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

[Updated at 1:08 p.m.]

Federal prosecutors cleared a major hurdle in their attempt to pore over several years’ worth of Democratic U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah’s personal emails before he goes to trial in May, thanks to a decision by an appeals court.

This July, Fattah was charged with using taxpayer and charitable funds to pay back an illegal $1 million campaign loan. Back in 2014, Fattah challenged a search warrant that the federal government served at Google seeking emails from his Gmail account, arguing that its execution would violate the “speech or debate” clause of the U.S. Constitution, among other things.

That clause is aimed at preventing prosecutors from targeting lawmakers because the executive branch disagrees with their political opinions. The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives joined Fattah in his challenge before a district court. Read more »

Is There a Middle Way on Cop Anonymity?

police-van

Let me confess to a failing: When John McNesby speaks, I almost always decide to take the opposite position. It’s a knee-jerk instinct, and it’s probably not one of my better characteristics. My reasoning? If you can find a dirty cop in Philadelphia, McNesby — president of Philly’s police union — is probably nearby, defending that cop and blaming the media. Yes, it’s his job, but his shtick sure seems old and counterproductive in an era that is (rightly) demanding more accountability and transparency from police.

Most of the time, I think he’s bad for Philadelphia.

So when McNesby came out Wednesday in favor of a bill that would require police departments to withhold the names of cops involved in shooting incidents — the Philly Police policy is to name names within 72 hours — I was inclined to dismiss him outright, for three big reasons: Read more »

Kane Supporters Fight Effort to Take Her Law License

Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

Nearly 1,000 people have signed a Change.org petition opposing reported efforts to suspend the law license of Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

The petition emerged after TribLive reported Friday that the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court has notified Kane that she has been targeted for action. The process is supposedly a secret. “Harrisburg is abuzz about whether the secretive lawyer discipline process is under way,” Brad Bumsted reported. “It becomes public only if the Supreme Court acts.”

In response, petitioners ask the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to let the legal charges against Kane — accused of leaking secret grand jury information as part of a political vendetta — play out before making any decisions on her law license.

Under the state constitution, only persons holding a law license can serve as attorney general. Read more »

Pa. Senator Wants to Legalize UberX, Lyft in Philly

Promotional photos from the press kits of Uber (left) and Lyft

Promotional photos from the press kits of Uber (left) and Lyft

Hailing an UberX may now be worse than taking a Philly cab these days, but the service’s popularity is undeniable. The problem? UberX (as well as Lyft, a competing ride-hailing app) is illegal in the city of Philadelphia.

A Harrisburg senator is hoping to change that. On Thursday, State Sen. Camera Bartolotta, a Republican, unveiled legislation that would legalize ride-hailing services in all areas of the state. Currently, UberX and Lyft are operating under temporary authority in all Pennsylvania counties except Philadelphia. The PPA has occasionally impounded UberX vehicles in sting operations.

“Legislation is necessary to ensure these companies are allowed to operate after the temporary authority expires. It is important for state laws to keep pace with the rate of modernization,” Bartolotta said in a statement. “While there is a golden opportunity for transportation network companies to provide new options for consumers, it is also necessary that we ensure these new services operate responsibly and safely.” Read more »

Kane: There’s Still More Porn

Kathleen Kane, left. Binder full of porn, right.

Kathleen Kane, left. Binder full of porn, right.

Turns out 400 pages of porn is just the beginning.

Embattled attorney general Kathleen Kane said Thursday she’ll seek court guidance whether to release even more pornographic emails shared by prosecutors, agents, and others in the attorney general’s office during the administration of her predecessor, Tom Corbett, before he became governor. They were discovered during an investigation of how Corbett’s office handled the Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State. Read more »

Online Voter Registration Coming to Pennsylvania

Photo by Derek Hatfield/Shutterstock.com

Photo by Derek Hatfield/Shutterstock.com

Pennsylvanians can now register to vote online by going to register.votespa.com.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced the policy change at a press conference today. He said online voter registration did not need legislative approval.

The National Conference of State Legislatures told the AP Pennsylvania will be the 23rd state to implement such a measure.

“Online registration… improves accuracy, increases the integrity of voter rolls,” Wolf said. “This online voter registration is also going to help our democracy. Judged by our voter turnout rates, we’re not as good as we used to be.” Read more »

Here’s What’s in All Those Porngate Emails Kathleen Kane Keeps Talking About

The binder of Porngate emails, available at the Supreme Court Office of Prothonotary at City Hall. | Joel Mathis

The binder of Porngate emails, available at the Supreme Court Office of Prothonotary at City Hall. | Joel Mathis

Here’s the bottom line: A binder full of porn — about 400 of pages of it, several inches thick in total — is anything but erotic. It’s gross and sexist and occasionally racist and definitely misogynistic and homophobic now and again, but if you are forced to page through such a binder, you might just find your libido dying from an odd mix of disgust and anger.

But here’s the knowledge to be gained from paging through such a binder after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court took the wraps off the “Porngate” emails that Attorney General Kathleen Kane has said are crucial to her defense against charges she leaked secret grand jury information as part of a political vendetta against Frank Fina, a former member of the attorney general’s office who now works for Philadelphia D.A. Seth Williams:
Read more »

Catholic Org: Pope Visit Being Organized by Pro-Choice Politicians

From the Lepanto Institute's report on ties between the World Meeting of Families and Planned Parenthood.

From the Lepanto Institute’s report on ties between the World Meeting of Families and Planned Parenthood.

A key leader for the World Meeting of Families has come under attack from a conservative Catholic “investigative group” that says he donated campaign funds to pro-abortion candidates.

The Lepanto Institute said Robert J. Ciaruffoli, currently listed as chairman (but sometimes listed as president) of WMOF’s board of directors, has, in various years, given campaign donations to Allyson Schwartz, Chaka Fattah, Bob Brady, Joe Biden, and Bill Richardson — all pro-choice Democrats. (The donations can be affirmed at the Federal Election Commission website.) The donation to Schwartz, a former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic before her stint in Congress, was singled out for criticism.

“The Church simply can’t afford to have event leaders so cozy with Planned Parenthood’s political cheerleaders,” said Michael Hichborn, the Virginia-based Lepanto Institute’s president. He sent the story out to reporters with the headline: “President of World Meeting of Families Funded Planned Parenthood Director’s Political Campaign.”

Ciaruffoli did not respond to a call and email for comment. Read more »

What Can Joe Biden Learn From Five Pennsylvania Presidential Losers?

From left: James Buchanan, Arlen Specter, Joe Biden, Rick Santorum, William Scott Hancock.

From left: James Buchanan, Arlen Specter, Joe Biden, Rick Santorum, William Scott Hancock.

Pennsylvania has long been regarded as a kingmaker when it comes to presidential politics — we still get awarded “swing state” status by pundits even though it’s been a generation since the state swung to Republicans in a presidential election. But we do a lousy job of electing our own.

The only native of the Keystone State to actually win the presidency? James Buchanan. You might remember him from his stint as The Worst President in American History. (That tends to happen when you stand by and let the nation devolve into ugly, bloody Civil War.) As Joe Biden — Scranton native, longtime U.S. senator from neighboring Delaware (aka “Pennsylvania’s third senator“)  — contemplates his own run for the presidency, he might want to consider the woes that have befallen his predecessors.

Here are five notable Pennsylvanians who failed to win the White House: Read more »

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