Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane is facing questions over using the trappings of her public office in the course of defending herself against criminal charges.
Dauphin County activist Gene Stilp filed a complaint with the state Ethics Commission Monday, requesting an investigation into Kane’s use of public resources for what he sees as her personal gain.
Stilp pointed out the undercover agents Kane tapped to beef up her personal security detail when she was arraigned on charges including perjury and obstruction of law. He also took issue with the speech Kane delivered last week to defend herself. The event was held in a state press room and managed by state employees.
“If a citizen did this, they’d be before the Ethics Commission in no time at all,” said Stilp.
The state Ethics Commission does not comment on filed complaints or ongoing inquiries. An ethics investigation could take as long as a year, with possible penalties ranging from fines to criminal charges if the case is referred to prosecutors.
Kane’s office defended her use of state resources and the taxpayer-funded protection detail, citing concerns that the attorney general’s public efforts to crack down on criminal activity could make her a target.
“We believed it was prudent under those circumstances to have the necessary security,” said Chuck Ardo, spokesman for Kane in her capacity as attorney general. “The case is against her individually, but it’s intertwined with her being attorney general.”
Montgomery County prosecutors charged Kane Aug. 6 with leaking secret investigative material and then lying about it to a grand jury. Kane has said she is innocent and will fight the charges without resigning from office.
Stilp has also come after Kane’s law license. He filed a complaint with the state Supreme Court last week, requesting a disciplinary board review. The state Constitution requires that the attorney general be a member of the bar.
A perennial presence at the state Ethics Commission, Stilp last year he submitted complaints against four state legislators named in a Philadelphia Inquirer report as having accepted cash and gifts from an undercover informant in a sting investigation by the attorney general’s office.
Stilp said he received a notice from the Ethics Commission that it has concluded its investigation, though it hasn’t made final determinations on penalties.