Release of Porngate report delayed

Charles Mostoller/Inquirer pool photo

Days after Kathleen Kane’s eighth press secretary in less than four years quit, the office announced, then abruptly canceled, the release of the much-vaunted “Porngate” investigation.

Kane’s office announced Saturday that a press conference would be held Tuesday to release the results of former Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler’s independent review of all emails found on the office’s servers.

A reminder email went out Monday morning about the press conference, but around 2 p.m. that day, a follow-up email canceled the event, saying former Montgomery County DA Bruce Castor, recently hired as Kane’s solicitor general, put the kibosh on the release.

“Solicitor General Castor determined the working draft report was not comprehensive, and that too many of the emails provided in support of the working draft report were redacted,” said the press release, which does not mention Kane as having any involvement in the decisions related to this press conference.

Castor, who famously argued in February that disgraced entertainer Bill Cosby could not be prosecuted on decade-old sex assault charges because he had a secret non-prosecution agreement with Cosby’s lawyer, took all responsibility for the miscommunication.

“The Solicitor General erroneously believed the full, un-redacted and comprehensive report he had asked to be finished by the end of May would be ready in time, and thus he directed the OAG press office to issue press advisories over the weekend announcing the news conference,” the release continued.

Kane, who is scheduled to go on trial in August on criminal charges for leaking confidential information to the media to embarrass a rival prosecutor, has long claimed she is the victim of a conspiracy of “good ole boys” who targeted her after she discovered pornographic, racist and offensive emails being swapped on state servers.

Several hundred pages of the emails were filed in court documents by Kane to prove her point, and she earned national notoriety after releasing them to the press. She also released to the media emails linked to the private account of former state Supreme Court justice Michael Eakin. Eakin retired after heavy criticism for the emails.

Justice Seamus McCaffery also previously left the bench after he was linked to the emails, which involved numerous top law enforcement officials.

Gansler, who says he has never personally looked at pornography, was hired by Kane in December to review all state emails and find any offensive content.

The AG’s office said that Gansler’s team couldn’t meet Castor’s “aggressive timetable.”

“As it turned out, Gansler and BuckleySandler LLP, Gansler’s law firm, were unable to comply with the aggressive timetable the Solicitor General desired, and Solicitor General Castor saw no alternative apart from granting more time to the independent investigators to complete their comprehensive report,” the AG’s office said.

In a second statement from Castor released by the AG’s office on Tuesday afternoon, he said Gansler had completed an “interim report” on time, and that Castor on Tuesday requested an “addendum,” which will be finished next week, to be made public shortly thereafter.

“[Castor]equested the additional supplemental detail from the lead investigator, General Gansler, relating to the interim report,” the office stated in the second email. “The additional information will be provided promptly in the form of anaddendumto the interim report. No changes have been requested, nor will be made to the interim report.”

Kane, the first Democrat and female attorney general in state history, announced in February that she would not seek reelection. Democrat Josh Shapiro and Republican John Rafferty are seeking election to the office in November.

Whether the resignation of Kane’s outspoken press secretary Chuck Ardo last week had anything to do with the release is unclear.

Ardo told the Inquirer he retired because he was “tired of explaining the inexplicable.”

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