Kane case unlikely to be political boon for Montco DA, analyst says

     Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, center, announces charges Thursday against Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane. She is surrounded by prosecutors from Bucks and Montgomery counties who took part in the investigation leading to the charges.(Brad Larrison/for NewsWorks)

    Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, center, announces charges Thursday against Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane. She is surrounded by prosecutors from Bucks and Montgomery counties who took part in the investigation leading to the charges.(Brad Larrison/for NewsWorks)

    Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman has charged Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane with five criminal offenses, including obstruction of the administration of law, conspiracy and perjury.

    Some are wondering what this high-profile case will do for the suburban prosecutor’s career.

    Ferman announced earlier this year she would not seek re-election to the district attorney’s office, where she has worked since 2003. Instead, Ferman put her hat in the ring for a county judicial seat.

    It’s unlikely the Kane case will make a huge difference in that election, said Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College.

    There are a few reasons.

    First of all, Ferman is already the front-runner, he said. “She would have been the favorite to win the judgeship anyway,” said Madonna, although the case will give her “a huge amount of publicity.”

    Second, the timeline for criminal trials runs at a snail’s pace. “I don’t think anyone believes this is going to come to trial this year,” said Madonna.

    Should Ferman win the election in November, she would get a 10-year term and likely be insulated from any political fallout from the outcome of Kane’s case.

    For her part, Ferman has shared the spotlight with other prosecutors, as well as carefully focusing on the case and not the politics of arraigning a sitting attorney general of the other party.

    Assistant District Attorneys Kevin Steele in Montgomery and Michelle Henry in Bucks are leading the prosecution team, joined by Deputy District Attorneys Antonetta Stancu from Bucks, Tom McGoldrick of Montgomery and Assistant District Attorney Stewart Ryan of Montgomery. These prosecutors represent both political parties.

    “The investigators and prosecutors alike were meticulous, they were thorough, they were detailed,” said Ferman, after spelling out the methods the prosecution used to arrive at the charges at the Thursday news conference in Norristown. “This investigation was as comprehensive as any we’ve ever done.”

    This investigation comes after revelations last year that Ferman herself got into hot water for failing to charge former county GOP Chairman Robert Kerns with indecent assault, a charge to which he later pleaded “no contest” when the case was picked up by Kane’s office.

    This is not to say other local officials might not benefit from a shakeup on the state level.

    Steele is running to replace Ferman in the district attorney’s office. Some have also speculated Montgomery County Commissioners Chairman Josh Shapiro could run against Kane when she is up for re-election in 2016.

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