Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane is walking back comments that she will not discipline her twin sister for exchanging emails poking fun at domestic violence, immigrants, Asians, obese people and others.
Now, Kane is claiming she cannot discipline her sister who also works in the state attorney general’s office.
“State ethics laws prohibit my involvement in any disciplinary action taken by the OAG with respect to my sister, attorney Ellen Granahan,” Kane said in a statement.
On Wednesday evening, Kane’s office released dozens of emails Granahan sent or received, including an image comparing immigrants to sperm and an email with a caption about a new dishwasher with a photo of a naked man sitting in a sink attached. Kane has called for the resignations of certain public officials who have sent or received similar, off-color messages as part of the “porngate” email scandal. Her spokesman, Chuck Ardo, told the Philadelphia Inquirer Kane found them to be less offensive than other emails exchanged by judges, prosecutors and other officials.
The following day, Kane justified her decision not to discipline her sister by basing it on a review her office conducted last year, which did not find Granahan’s emails to be inappropriate.
On Friday, Kane changed her tune, saying that state ethics laws barred her from weighing in on the matter.
“Contrary to the impression created yesterday, I have never characterized or judged the content of my sister’s emails,” she said, adding that she had not seen the emails until they were released earlier this week and that the review was conducted by other members of her staff to avoid a conflict of interest.
Her office released the statement less than an hour after a reporter contacted Ardo Friday morning to ask whether it was also a conflict of interest for Kane to decide whether or not to discipline Granahan.
Ardo said deciding on punishment is up to Douglas Gansler, the special prosecutor Kane appointed to investigate tens of thousands of emails exchanged by government officials.
“Mr. Gansler has free rein,” Ardo said. “He could prosecute, he could recommend discipline, so he will be the one that will make the final determination.”