Attorney General Kathleen Kane has a big problem. Now let’s see what else she’s got.

Elected statewide officeholders often deal with difficult and controversial issues. To survive, it’s not enough that they be right in how they handle those issues. They also have to be able to explain why they’re right. And that’s the challenge for Pennsylvania’s first-term Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

The Philadelphia Inquirer in a front page banner headline story says that the Attorney General refused to bring charges against at least five elected officials, all Philadelphia Democrats and all African-American, who were caught on tape accepting cash and jewelry from a lobbyist seeking favors. The Attorney General is a Democrat elected in 2012 with support from African-American and Democratic voters in Philadelphia, while promising to investigate her predecessor’s delay in seeking charges against now convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky.

The Inquirer quotes a statement from Kane describing the sting, conducted by her predecessor in which the gifts to officials were recorded, as the “Black Caucus corruption investigation”. The Inquirer says Kane in her statement called the investigation “poorly conceived, badly managed, and tainted by racism.” But the Inquirer did not publish Kane’s full statement along with the news story. Why? Wouldn’t that statement itself be news?

What evidence does the AG have, particularly that the investigation was “tainted by racism”? The Inquirer story quotes prosecutors familiar with the sting as comparing it to Abscam, dramatized in the movie American Hustle, which resulted in convictions of elected officials.  Those sources attribute the AG’s dropping of the case to politics, watching out for her allies.

Kathleen Kane has to publicly defend and explain her handling of this sting operation which she inherited from her predecessor, Republican Tom Corbett, now the Governor of Pennsylvania. If she can do so successfully, she has a bright future in politics.

But if she can’t explain herself convincingly, her political opponents will have a big issue to hold against her that feeds into the stereotype, and maybe the reality of political corruption in the city of Philadelphia. Kathleen Kane must run for re-election in two years, and that challenge just got harder for her.

And where’s her report on Governor Corbett’s handling of the Sandusky investigation and prosecution?

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