Leading Pa. lawmakers leave AG Kane’s fate to the courts

     Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane walks from the State Supreme Court room in March at Philadelphia City Hall. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

    Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane walks from the State Supreme Court room in March at Philadelphia City Hall. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

    Legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle are speaking in unison on Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who is under threat of indictment. Their message? We’re not getting involved.

    Spokespeople or leaders from all four legislative caucuses said this week that they’re not calling for Kane to step down.

    “Obviously, all of this is uncomfortable,” said Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia), ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee. He said he won’t blow a whistle on Kane in the absence of actual charges against her.

    “We’ll look at it at that point,” Hughes said. “But this still is America, you’re still innocent until you’re proven guilty.”

    Republican House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) agreed.

    “Certainly when you get to the point of an actual indictment, it does change the equation a great deal,” said Reed.

    Kane is under fire for allegedly leaking secret grand jury material. She claims she did nothing illegal.

    A Montgomery County judge is asking Kane to explain, in a hearing on April 27, how firing a top deputy wasn’t retaliation for his testimony before a grand jury investigating her activity. The panel recommended charges against Kane, and the Montgomery County district attorney has reopened the case with additional search warrants at two of Kane’s offices last week.

    The comments by leading legislators echo Governor Tom Wolf’s recent remarks to the Philadelphia Inquirer, saying that the questions raised about Kane will have to be settled by the courts.

    Even the House Republican who’s been pushing for Kane’s impeachment for the past year said he’s waiting to see what happens in the “judicial realm.”

    “I think there’s a lot of the members expecting to see the court being involved in this in the near future with the charges that have been recommended by the grand jury, so that’s part of the discussion with folks that I’ve talked to,” said Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler). He said he’s still gathering co-sponsors for his impeachment resolution.

    Kane set off conservative fury early in her term for moves like refusing to defend the state’s now-defunct ban on gay marriage and closing the so-called Florida loophole for conceal-carry gun permits. Her squabbles with former state prosecutors have roots in her campaign pledge to re-investigate their prosecution of convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach sentenced to decades in prison.

    Kane’s personal lawyer has said she’s the victim of the old boys’ club she sought to dismantle when she was elected. She is the state’s first Democratic, female attorney general since the post became an elected office in 1980.

    “Republicans want to win this seat back,” said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa. “That is a part of it.”

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