Happy talk 'oversight'
After running a TV-oriented campaign and refusing to take questions after a major decision she announced on the state lottery two weeks ago, no one knew quite what to expect when new Attorney General Kathleen Kane made a major public appearance to testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Kane hit it out of the park with personal vignettes and a passionate plea for a $12.7 million increase in her appropriation.
The Democrat is giving the Republican Gov. Tom Corbett fits. She was appearing before a Republican-controlled budget committee. So some tough questions might have been on order.
But for a variety of reasons, it turned into a love fest with GOP and Democrat senators fawning over her.
For starters, she left no doubt about her ability to argue a case. I knew that from watching her debate Republican David Freed last year, but the no-comment-deal after nixing Corbett's lottery management privatization contract left some in doubt.
• She's a woman, somewhat of a rarity in state politics, in front of an almost all-male committee.
• Many GOP senators probably agreed with her decision on the lottery, arguing that monitor-based games like Keno used to boost lottery revenues required legislative approval. Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, R-Bucks County, flat out said he agreed with Kane's decision. The reason she took no questions at the lottery event: She wanted the legal argument to stand and not give Corbett the chance to pounce on any potential ambiguity.
• She threw a hard-breaking curve ball as the hearing began, saying she needed more money for her office — not only because a union contract jacked up salary and benefits — but because Mexican drug cartels are taking over our neighborhoods. She followed up with another hardball: she needs the money to go after 2,800 Internet predators.
Violent drug dealers and Internet pervs make state lawmakers real nervous. They would never want to be seen as opposing appropriation to get rid of them.
So, not a question was asked about the evidence of Mexican drug cartels. And they were soon calling for increased money in the AG's office, which, by the way, is investigating Corbett's handling of the Jerry Sandusky case when he was the AG.
“They are taking over our neighborhoods,” Kane said of Mexican cartels. “They are more violent than the Colombian cartels.”
She said concern over the cartels and Internet sex offenders keeps her up at night.
Kane offered no proof other than a map of “street-gang involvement” throughout the United States. It showed a concentration of incidents in the I-95 corridor between Washington, Philly and New York — and a smattering in Western Pennsylvania.
Afterward, her staff upon request offered news releases and news stories showing Mexican drug connections in busts by the AG's office since 2010.
A day later before the House Appropriations Committee, Kane said there are cases involving cartels under seal that she could not discuss, noting they are “frightening.”
But no senator thought to ask Kane to show them evidence of Mexican drug cartels taking over our state.
Instead, she got the happy talk that frequently masquerades as oversight by legislative committees.
Brad Bumsted is the state Capitol reporter for Trib Total Media (717-787-1405.}
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- PennDOT team decides what spells trouble on vehicle license plates
- Pirates get journeyman Ishikawa off waivers; outfielder Marte injured
- Alvarez homer triggers winning outburst for Pirates
- Woman shot at Kennywood Park in ‘freak accident’
- Film shares tale of Pittsburgh man who turned disability into career
- Westmoreland County on pace to surpass record for drug-related fatalities
- Man charged with passing counterfeit bills at Rivers Casino
- Apple Hill Playhouse takes on an updated ‘Snow White’
- Don’t remove history’s lessons
- McCutchen, Pirates hitters increasingly in crosshairs
- Iraqi fighter jet drops bomb over Baghdad, kills 12 people