Kathleen Kane’s Double Standard

Mendte: Dems get kid gloves, Republicans get humiliation.

Kathleen Kane. AP Photo | Bradley C. Bower

Kathleen Kane. AP Photo | Bradley C. Bower

When Kathleen Kane was sworn in as Pennsylvania’s first attorney general last year, she was immediately hailed as shooting political star. There was talk of Kane running for governor, even before she completed her first year in her new job.

Well, they got the political part right.

Kathleen Kane has used her office to protect the corrupt in her own party and has attempted to unseat those in the opposing party.

The most brazen example came last week when she held the sleaziest news conference in the history of the state in what seems to be an attempt to influence the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race. Kane brought pornographic images to the news conference and claimed she found all of them on the computers of former employees of the attorney general’s office.

Kane did name names, eight of them to be exact. Every one of them employees who were close to then-Attorney General Tom Corbett. Corbett is now governor and running for re-election against Democrat Tom Wolfe.

There were no charges announced. It is doubtful there was any criminal activity. There were 38 employees who allegedly traded porn, but only the names of Republicans close to the governor were released.

Most importantly, there was absolutely no evidence that Governor Tom Corbett was or is involved. But that didn’t stop the Philadelphia Daily News from plastering his picture on the front page with the headline “Peeping Tom.”

If Kane’s goal was to slime the governor in the middle of his re-election bid, mission accomplished.

This is not to defend the trading of porn in the workplace. It is tasteless, degrading to women and just plain dumb. But online pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry and every workplace has to deal with this issue. Countless companies have disciplined and/or terminated employees for such actions.

We don’t hear about such actions because most employers are not careless with personnel matters because of the threat of lawsuits. It is safe to say that there has never been a news conference held to disclose such information, until Kathleen Kane purposely used the porn emails to damage the reputations of Republicans.

Compare that news conference to the actions by Kane earlier this year when she intervened and shut down a corruption investigation that allegedly caught several Philadelphia politicians on tape accepting bribes. Four of those caught were Democratic members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

At a March news conference, the attorney general vehemently defended her actions and was offended by accusations that she blocked the investigation for political reasons.

But the juxtaposition of the two cases and the two news conferences raise serious questions about the attorney general’s motivation in choosing cases to prosecute and to publicize.

It is difficult for Kane to move past the facts that the Philadelphia corruption probe dealt with real crimes of political corruption with real evidence, but the targets were Democrats and it was dropped. But the porn email case that seems on its face to be an HR problem is worth a news conference and a continued investigation, and the known targets are Republicans.

In July, the Allentown Morning Call wrote a scathing review of Kane’s record in dealing with the Philadelphia corruption case. The story included this paragraph:

“Her office has been humiliated by poorly executed criminal cases that have been tossed out by courts. Kane’s verbal blunders and public disagreements with high ranking officials, including the state police commissioner and the Philadelphia district attorney, threaten to undermine her effectiveness, according to several current and former prosecutors interviewed by The Morning Call.”

State police commissioner Frank Noonan was one of the eight names released by Attorney General Kane at her porn email news conference.

In May, Representative Daryl Metcalfe, the most outspoken conservative member of the Pennsylvania house, started impeachment proceedings against Kathleen Kane. The proceeding went nowhere.

It was clear that Metcalfe overreached in his furor that Kane refused to defend the Pennsylvania gay marriage ban in court. But now there are real questions about the Attorney General’s motivation in squelching, publicizing and prosecuting cases. Impeachment seems far-fetched, but the actions are still worthy of a legislative investigation.

Follow Larry Mendte on Twitter.

Previously: Top Cop Won’t Resign in Email Scandal
Previously: Kane Will Make Racy Emails Available to Corbett
Previously: Mr. Corbett, It’s Time to Clean House