A Pennsylvania Senate panel plans to hold a hearing Tuesday in the course of its consideration of Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s removal.
It may be a short affair.
Kane, who is awaiting trial on perjury and other charges, will not appear before the committee to plead her case. Her office spokesman, Chuck Ardo, said Kane doesn’t want to legitimize the Senate’s effort to give her the boot.
“She believes the Senate, through its committee, is acting unconstitutionally,” said Ardo, “and that the appropriate way to attempt to remove her would be through impeachment.”
But the hearing will go on, with or without representatives to testify on Kane’s behalf.
“A lot of notice was given to her,” said Drew Crompton, a top Senate Republican aide. As for her decision, apparently, not to appear before the panel, Crompton said, “her choice.”
Tuesday’s hearing is a required step in the rarely used process of “removal” allowed by the Pennsylvania Constitution for most elected officials. The Senate started down this path last fall, after the state Supreme Court suspended Kane’s law license in light of the criminal case against her. The entire process could end in Kane’s ouster, if a two-thirds majority in the Senate votes accordingly.
The only potential testifier Tuesday on Kane’s behalf could be her chief of staff, Jonathan Duecker. He submitted 11 pages of written remarks to the committee before a Monday noon deadline.
Duecker’s testimony points to a divide within the Office of Attorney General as to whether Kane needs an active law license to do her job.
Top deputies told the panel in November that most of what Kane does is legal work. But Kane’s chief of staff calls that an “absurdly narrow characterization” of Kane’s responsibilities, which also include budget, policy, and administrative decisions.
“While there is no accurate way to characterize what part of the attorney general’s roles and responsibilities are legal and non-legal in nature,” wrote Duecker, “it is clear that most of them are non-legal.”
Duecker’s testimony goes on to detail changes Kane has made at the OAG since taking office in 2013, such as creating a roving law enforcement unit to help municipalities combat crime, beefing up drug-control efforts, and increasing arrests of child-predators.