Kathleen Kane is a lousy attorney general, but that doesn't mean she should resign | Opinion | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Kathleen Kane is a lousy attorney general, but that doesn't mean she should resign 

"She's petty, a bit vindictive and chock-full of bad decisions, but that's not grounds to force her resignation."

Let's get this out of the way: Kathleen Kane should not resign her post as Pennsylvania Attorney General.

However, please don't read this as blind support for the embattled attorney general from the unapologetically left-wing weekly. Rather, barring any criminal charges (which are not outside the realm of possibility), Kane should complete her term — and then disappear from politics and public life as quickly as she entered it more than three years ago.

Kane, a former Lackawanna County prosecutor specializing in child-protection cases, ascended to the office after defeating Democrat Patrick Murphy in the 2012 primary and Republican David Freed that November. She became the first woman and the first Democrat elected to the job.

She made a name for herself early through diligent prosecutions of drug-dealers and sex offenders, and for not being afraid to call out Republican Tom Corbett when she felt it was right. Shortly after taking office in 2013, she refused to sign a contract allowing Corbett to privatize the state's lottery system through a British company. Later in 2013, when the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state to overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage, Kane said: "I believe [the ban] to be wholly unconstitutional."

click to enlarge Kathleen Kane
  • Kathleen Kane

Her star was indeed rising, and at one time she was considered a viable opponent in next year's race against Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey. But all of that has changed relatively quickly. Kathleen Kane has gone from party favorite and potential U.S. Senator to beleaguered attorney general facing calls for her resignation that grow louder by the day.

In the past 15 months or so, she has shown questionable judgment, along with a penchant for grinding political axes. That's a side most people didn't see coming from a candidate who billed herself as a prosecutor, not a politician.

But it seems like she plays politics at every turn. Kane started by launching a promised investigation into former Gov. Corbett's handling of the Jerry Sandusky case. While the investigation yielded no evidence of prosecutorial misconduct, Kane tried to spin the resulting report's critiques into bigger problems than they probably were.

She then ended a grand-jury investigation into six Philly Democrats accused of taking bribes in a sting operation. She said the probe was flawed and racially biased. She then leaked grand-jury testimony from that investigation in an effort to smear former prosecutor and political foe Frank Fina (who himself got a judge's order to prevent Kane from releasing alleged pornographic material that he had reportedly shared in the infamous Porngate debacle). And when Kane approached the Philadelphia Inquirer to speak about her decision to drop the investigation, she brought famed libel lawyer Richard Sprague to emphasize that she wouldn't be actually speaking about the probe, and that Sprague was investigating whether a defamation lawsuit was warranted. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams picked up the probe and has charged all six.

Now Kane faces perjury and other charges related to the leaks. An independent prosecutor is evaluating whether to file charges.

Last week, the Inquirer ran another piece alleging that Kane quashed the subpoena of casino developers Louis DeNaples and William Conaboy, who were called to testify in the investigation of a former Pennsylvania gaming official. Months after the action, according to the paper, DeNaples donated $25,000 to Kane's political campaign. She later returned the money.

That's a lot of controversy for a political term three months into its third year. Nonetheless, Kane shouldn't step down. She hasn't been charged with anything yet. There aren't yet sufficient grounds to try to force her to leave office early. That could change, and I might eventually change my opinion.

I'm not supporting what she has allegedly done, but what the evidence shows so far is that Kathleen Kane is just a really shitty attorney general. She's petty, a bit vindictive and chock-full of bad decisions, but that's not grounds to force her resignation. Sometimes politicians are like that. No major editorial board called for Tom Corbett to step down, and by a lot of accounts, he was a pretty shitty governor.

Kathleen Kane has less than two years left on her term, and barring any major developments, she should be left to serve it out and run for re-election, if she chooses, on her record. I, for one, hope she doesn't run. But if she does, the voters of Pennsylvania will be the ones to decide whether they want four more years of this nonsense.


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