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Pennsylvania’s Kane Latest State AG to Ignore Basic Principles of Law & Justice

Kathleen Kane, Pennsylvania’s attorney general and a politician national Democrats had hoped might someday win a U.S. Senate seat, continued this month her embarrassing and desperate descent toward likely disbarment and a self-imposed political death sentence.

On Monday, October 5, the former head of the AG’s appeals office, James Barker – who was also responsible for statewide grand juries – filed a defamation/wrongful termination lawsuit against AG Kane. Barker alleged his termination was purely retaliatory for testifying in a grand jury investigation into AG Kane’s alleged perjury and conspiracy to leak confidential grand jury documents to the public in an attempt to embarrass political opponents. Barker was fired back in April of this year, less than a month after he testified that the entire attorney general’s staff had signed an oath of secrecy regarding prior grand jury testimony. Barker was the only individual terminated.

On October 2, AG Kane was arraigned a second time and charged with felony perjury and misdemeanor false swearing, and misdemeanor obstruction. These additional charges stem from that signed oath of secrecy discovered in her office in September – a binding secrecy requirement which Barker referenced in his grand jury testimony allegedly prompted his firing. Kane had been arraigned and charged initially on August 8 for felony perjury, misdemeanor false swearing, multiple counts of misdemeanor obstruction of justice, and multiple counts of misdemeanor oppression/denial of rights.

In reaction to the August 8 indictment, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on September 21 temporarily suspended AG Kane’s law license. Since the order and her arraignment on additional charges, another ethics complaint was filed against her on the same day Barker filed his lawsuit. The ethics complaint calls on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to disbar Kane, and calls for Associate Justice J. Michael Eakin to recuse himself from any deliberations regarding Kane. Justice Eakin has been the most recent target of Kane’s allegations into explicit and offensive e-mail practices at the high court and within the prior administration’s AG office.

The criminal charges and ethics complaints can be traced back to Kane’s apparently false and misleading testimony given in November 2014 to a grand jury investigating the April 2014 leak of a 2009 grand jury investigation conducted by Kane’s political opponents and Pennsylvania prosecutors, Frank Fina and Marc Costanzo. The 2009 grand jury investigation centered around alleged misappropriation of state grant money by a Philadelphia non-profit, and the potential involvement of the head of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP. The case resulted in two guilty pleas by workers of the non-profit, with no further investigation into the NAACP chapter’s leader. The grand jury investigating the April 2014 leak found her testimony to be false, and recommended that she be criminally charged.

Observers say Kane chose to leak the 2009 grand jury information in an effort to embarrass Fina and Constanzo. She blamed them for providing information for a March 2014 Philadelphia Inquirer story that was critical of her decision to end a “home run” corruption probe into Pennsylvania state legislators and judges — all Philadelphia Democrats — caught accepting cash on videotape. In plotting her next course of action, she reportedly told her political adviser, “this is war.” As a response to the criticism that followed, she eventually handed off the probe to a Philadelphia prosecutor who reopened the case, got four guilty pleas, and has two trials pending.

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