Now admit it … How many of you were expecting an brutal excoriation of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder? If you did, you obviously do not live in the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania!
If you did, you might have immediately associated the above title as one of the traits now commonly attributed the Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
Kane won election to the post of AG quite handily in 2012, even receiving an in-person endorsement appearance by former President Bill Clinton. Heck, even I crossed party lines to vote for her, in my long-held belief that having an qualified opposition party member holding certain positions in government (e.g. AG, Comptroller) is not a bad way to keep an eye on the majority party hen house.
In this case, it was a monumental mistake in judgment on my part!
Kane has served only as an Assistant District Attorney in Lackawanna County. That does not – in and of itself – preempt the possibility that she was qualified and could serve admirably. But there other rumblings during the election about just how much litigation experience she had, which also by itself does not predict incompetence.
Regardless, the important thing now is that she has proven to be so far in over her head that even PA Democrats, including fellow Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, are looking in her direction with WTF? looks on their faces!
Almost immediately after taking office, Kane shut down a years-long PA AG investigation into political corruption in the Democrat bastion of Philadelphia. The probe, using a turned informant, caught five local pols, including four State Representatives and a Traffic Court judge, taking cash payments or jewelry, on 400 hours of TAPE (!) for votes or contracts!
The problem? Kane was in a feud with the investigation’s former prosecutor, Frank G. Fina, who, having identified a conflict-of-interest for Kane’s management of the case, had bundled up the evidence and forwarded it to federal prosecutors for their consideration.
Fina was already in Kane’s crosshairs for his connection the Jerry Sandusky (Penn State University football) pedophilia investigation, which Kane used as the pointy spear in her campaign for the state AG job. She alleged politically-motivated foot-dragging by the State AG’s office at the direction of Governor Tom Corbett, who sat on the PSU Board of Governors. (Those allegations were independently disproved in a subsequent probe commissioned by AG Kane.) When Kane took office she had her staff appropriate the hard drives and all files in Fina’s possession, then took the unprecedented steps of interfering in Fina’s professional interactions after he left and joined the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office.
And this is where it gets really juicy!
When pressed by critics and the media for an explanation for dropping what appeared to be a pretty solid chance for prosecutions, Kane first claimed the probe was racially targeted (All the subjects were black.); then she claimed other prosecutors had told her it was “unprosecutable” then she simply said that anyone who challenged her view was “sexist”, playing the “good old boys” network.
The only findings supporting the “unprosecutable” claim came from the federal prosecutors’ undefined decision not to accept the case as forwarded by Fina and another DA’s opinion that was based only on a summary prepared by Kane’s office!
The most egregious claim was the one on racism. Kane claiming that the lead prosecutor, an African-American, had advised that he was directed to target member of the city’s black caucus. Claude Thomas, the investigator said no such thing was ever said; and the only “evidence” Kane would supply was a memo prepared by her staff AFTER she had made the claim.
At this point, Philly DA Williams, a fellow Democrat, came to the defense of his new employees, Fina and Thomas, who had come to work for him after Kane had let Fina go.
Williams challenged Kane’s claims on all counts. So Kane threw the challenge back at Williams, daring him to take over the case and attempting prosecutions. Williams promptly did, and so far has brought charges against two of the probe’s targets, with the Traffic Court judge accepting a plea deal for accepting a $2,000. Tiffany bracelet.
In another attempt to nail Frank Fina, Kane released a confidential grand jury memo on financial investigation into J. Whyatt Mondeshire, former head of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP. Mondeshire was never charged or publicly acknowledged as a target of the grand jury; but that didn’t stop Kane (or her staff) from releasing the information to newspapers. As a result, a grand jury, commissioned by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille, is looking into the matter and the potential for criminal charges.
Kane’s worrisome defense? She was a stay-at-home mom at the time of the Mondeshire probe, so the curtain of confidentiality didn’t apply to her! Yep, that’s a top-flight legal mind right there!
Of course, Kane – for all the legitimate questions and challenges thrown her way – continues to double-down on her defense of her head-scratching, almost unconscionable positions by attacking even more! Her latest foible was to conduct a full review of the Corbett Administrations e-mail archives, after it was revealed that inappropriate and pornographic content was shared among some working in the AG office and in other segments of the State’s justice system.
Not necessarily a bad initiative to take, even if it ensnared a few Democrats along the way, such as tough law-and-order Supreme Court Justice, Seamus McCaffrey. The only problem is that many viewed the effort as a thinly-veiled attempt to silence critics by threatening to reveal the details of their e-mail histories.
Yet Kane even managed to muff the punt once again, by claiming her review found instances of child pornography, which were quickly walked back by her own staff spokesperson almost as soon as Kane uttered the words. Media reviews did in fact find memes and pictures of children, but they were clearly not pornographic in nature!
For a State, recently depicted as one of the most corrupt state governments in the U.S., yet which rarely considers the removal of officials from office under almost any circumstances, it is quite telling that the State Legislature is throwing around the “I word” …
And now today, the grand jury convened to review the actions of Kathleen Kane’s Attorney General’s office has returned an indictment for criminal charges of perjury and contempt of court. The meteoric rise of the politically gifted is often only exceeded by the speed of their fall!