Decision on Kane charges could take months

Attorney General Kathleen Kane
Courtesy of the Attorney General's Office

A grand jury’s recommendation to indict Attorney General Kathleen Kane on criminal charges must be reviewed by the Montgomery County D.A. before the charges are filed. The decision could take months, reports say.

“I did nothing wrong. Period. Any fair and impartial review of the evidence would conclude that,” Kane said in a statement emailed to the media on Friday. “This seems to me to be another political attack on my attempt to clean up Harrisburg and its political culture.”

The grand jury’s recommendations include charges of perjury and contempt-of-court against Kane for leaking a memo from a previous grand jury investigation to the press, the Inquirer reported based on anonymous sources.

The grand jury presentment was not released to the public or press. Such a presentment must be reviewed by Montgomery County D.A. Risa Vetri Ferman, who will decide whether to press charges. The grand jury was impaneled in Norristown, in Montgomery County. Such a review could take months, the Inquirer reported.

Ferman, a Republican, announced recently that she will run for a Montgomery County judgeship at the end of 2015 rather than seek reelection.

At a press conference Saturday held at a Center City hotel, Kane’s defense attorney Lanny Davis, the former special counsel to President Bill Clinton, announced that Kane would not resign even if criminal charges are filed.

Davis said the charges are politically motivated and that Kane, a Democrat and the first woman elected Attorney General in Pennsylvania, is being “railroaded” by male Republicans, the Inquirer reported.

The Supreme Court justice who ordered the grand jury, the judge supervising the grand jury, and the special prosecutor in charge of the grand jury leak investigation are all Republicans.

“They have fought me all the way, including an effort to impeach me,” Kane said in her statement. “Since taking office, I have torn up their questionable contracts, cleaned up their investigations, broke their pornography ring and prosecuted corrupt officials. I will continue to cleanup Harrisburg, despite these attacks that seem to be more about politics than the merits.”

The Morning Call reported the grand jury will now investigate whether Kane threatened officials who criticized her for the release of pornographic emails exchanged within the office of the attorney general and other state agencies.

Kane eventually did release the images, leading to the resignations of about 20 men who worked in various state offices, including state Supreme Court justice Seamus McCaffery.

Kane acknowledged leaking a memo about the 2009 investigation into the finances of J. Whyatt Mondesire, former head of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, to the Daily News in June 2014, but denied that it was illegal. No charges were ever filed against Mondesire.

However, Kane has denied leaking a second memo, which the grand jury is also investigating.

The leak came as Kane was facing wide criticism over Inquirer reports that she shut down a political corruption sting that had snared five Philly Democratic officials accepting illegal gifts or donations without making any arrests.

D.A. Seth Williams took the case and state Rep. Ronald Waters, state Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, and former Traffic Court supervising judge Thomasine Tynes have all since been charged based on evidence from the sting.

If Kane is charged, she will be the second attorney general to face criminal charges in the state’s history, according to Dr. Ken Wolensky, president of the Pennsylvania Historical Society.

“Ernest Preate was in his 2nd term as PA Attorney General when he was indicted, pled guilty and resigned in 1995. The charges were federal racketeering and corruption involving mail fraud for campaign contributions. Preate was in prison at Allenwood for a year or two then released on a community service program,” Dr. Wolensky said in an email. “He would likely have been the Republican nominee for governor in 1994 but for his indictment. Tom Ridge became the nominee. “Coincidentally, Preate, like Kane, is from Lackawanna County where he resides today.”

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