Kathleen Kane resigns as Pennsylvania Attorney General
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a convicted felon, said she will step down as the state's chief law enforcement officer at the close of business Wednesday.
A jury convicted Kane, 50, of Scranton on Monday night of nine criminal charges, including perjury and obstruction of justice.
Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy said Kane's sentencing would occur in the next 90 days.
“I have been honored to serve the people of Pennsylvania, and I wish them health and safety in all their days,” Kane said in a two-sentence news release Tuesday.
Kane lied under oath to hide a leak of grand jury material she had orchestrated to embarrass a former prosecutor, the jury found.
Gov. Tom Wolf, a fellow Democrat, called Kane's decision to resign “the right one, and will allow the people of Pennsylvania to finally move on from this situation.”
“I have full faith and confidence in the employees of the Office of the Attorney General and know that they will continue to perform its most important functions, including protecting consumers and prosecuting criminals,” Wolf said.
The governor said he would work with Republicans and Democrats in the Senate to appoint Kane's successor. Wolf nominates a candidate, and the Senate must confirm.
“We will work to select someone who will begin the process of restoring the integrity of the office of the state's top prosecutor,” said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County.
Almost five months remain on Kane's term, which expires in mid-January.
In November, Pennsylvania voters will choose between Montgomery County Commission Chairman Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, and Sen. John Rafferty, R-Montgomery County, for attorney general, whose four-year term will start in January.
First Deputy Bruce Castor, a Republican, will be acting attorney general unless Wolf and the Senate agree on a replacement.
Jennifer Kocher, a spokeswoman for Senate Republicans, said Senate GOP leaders had been prepared to summon members to vote to remove Kane from office had she not resigned.
A majority of senators in February voted to remove her, but the vote failed because it required a two-thirds super majority.
After the roll call, a motion was made for reconsideration. That meant it could be brought up again.
“We were serious. We were looking at the possibility (of next week). We were looking at member availability,” Kocher said.
The vote was based primarily on the suspension of Kane's law license.
“A criminal conviction only added to that position,” Kocher said. “It's only a shame more people (employees) were hurt in the intervening months.”
While Kane's resignation is overdue, it is “hopefully the beginning of restoring respect and integrity in the OAG,” said Chris Parker, a retired agent.
“The actions of a handful of employees that have brought disrespect to the entire agency should not reflect on the 99 percent of the employees who are there to serve the citizens of this commonwealth,” Parker said.
Kane is allowed to remain free on her own recognizance, the judge ruled. However, Demchick-Alloy issued a stern warning that Kane would be “incarcerated immediately” if she retaliates against any witnesses.
Several former employees are suing Kane, alleging they were fired because they testified against her interests before a grand jury.
Castor has questioned whether Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele can bind the Attorney General's Office to an immunity agreement for a key witness against Kane who admitted he lied to the state grand jury.
Steele through a spokeswoman declined to comment.
Josh Morrow, Kane's political consultant, testified last week that he was telling the truth when he told the jury deciding Kane's fate that she had conspired with him to leak a secret grand jury document, then lie about it.
As for Demchick-Alloy's order to Kane about not retaliating against people in the case, Castor said that applies to Kane — not to him.
“I'm stating a legal principle,” Castor said at a news conference. “I am not threatening anyone.”
Castor was Kane's pick in March to be her second-in-command. He defended her.
“If there is a Mr. Hyde side to her Dr. Jekyll, I haven't seen it,” he said.
Kane granted Castor, 54, a former Montgomery County district attorney, a waiver allowing him to continue his private law practice while serving as first deputy. He is suing the Centre County commissioners on behalf of Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller, and he holds an appointment there as special assistant DA.
“I doubt there's anyone in Pennsylvania with more experience and who brings more knowledge of the game than me,” Castor said.
Asked about Kane's entourage of five or six bodyguards who accompanied her at trial, Castor said the attorney general has a right to the protection she and staff believe she needs. Kane won't have bodyguards by the end of the day Wednesday, Castor acknowledged.
Brad Bumsted is the Tribune-Review's state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or email@example.com.