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Trust, loyalty led AG Kane to move cousin from campaign to state staff

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Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 5:39 p.m.
 

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Kathleen Kane in January hired her cousin to a $56,665 job as her executive assistant, her office confirmed Wednesday.

Colleen Tighe was the “most qualified for the job,” said Kane's first deputy, Adrian King. “It was not just skills and ability; it was trust and loyalty.”

Tighe was Kane's executive assistant and traveled with her during the 2012 campaign, King said.

“She's someone the attorney general is with 24-7,” King said.

Tighe could not be reached.

In August, Kane's office confirmed that her identical twin received a 19.65 percent pay raise in April to head the office's Child Protection Unit. Ellen Granahan worked in the office before Kane arrived, under former Attorneys General Linda Kelly and Gov. Tom Corbett, who hired her.

King said he promoted Granahan because of her experience and did so without Kane's input. The promotion boosted Granahan's pay from $69,771 to $83,423.

Kane is the first Democrat and first woman elected as Pennsylvania's attorney general. In November, she led the Democratic ticket, drawing more votes than President Obama.

“It's a fairly common practice in government” for some elected officials to place relatives on staff, said G. Terry Madonna, a political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. “It's been going on for more than a century.”

But he noted that “public officials need to be careful about the business of relatives on payrolls, especially when they are hired by the principal.”

Tighe will not write legal opinions or make key decisions, Madonna said.

Tighe was right for the job because Kane can talk on the phone about sensitive topics or family issues with her present, King said.

“This has not been the easiest transition in the world, considering it's an agency controlled by one party for 32 years,” he said.

The women share a hotel room when Kane travels, saving taxpayers money, King noted.

Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com.

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