Looking back at 2016: Kathleen Kane’s resignation

    Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane arrives at the Montgomery County courthouse in Norristown

    Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane arrives at the Montgomery County courthouse in Norristown

    This year saw the end of one of the most dramatic political roller-coasters in recent Pennsylvania history: the tenure of former state Attorney General, Democrat Kathleen Kane.

    Kane was convicted of perjury this summer and stepped down from her post, but the controversy surrounding her far predates that.

    It was shortly into her tenure, two years before, when negative stories began to circulate about Kane shutting down an investigation into several Democratic state lawmakers accepting bribes.

    She launched into an apparent plan for revenge against a former state prosecutor she assumed to be a source in the negative story, and ultimately ended up leaking secret grand jury records to the press in an attempt to discredit him.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    An investigation into her conduct began, but Kane consistently maintained her innocence.

    She told reporters at a 2015 press conference, “I neither conspired with anyone, nor directed anyone to do anything illegal or unlawful.”

    She also accused the political establishment of colluding against her, telling reporters that “what this means to Pennsylvania voters, is that the politicians will now choose their next attorney general for them.”

    Meanwhile, the inner workings of the AG’s office were in disarray.

    Chuck Ardo, who stepped in as Kane’s eighth press secretary in 2015 and eventually resigned, said the unending investigations took a serious toll on morale.

    He said he believes Kane “routinely listened to the wrong people.” And worse, he added, she rarely communicated with most employees.

    “I left in May of 2016,” he said. “The AG had inexplicably decided not to talk to me, and it’s very difficult to be a spokesman for someone who doesn’t speak.”

    The situation continued to deteriorate, and Kane continued to refuse to leave office, until August. She was convicted after a lengthy trial and resigned her post soon after.

    Bruce Beemer, her former first deputy, took over in the interim.

    Ardo returned to work with Beemer, but is leaving the office again when newly elected AG Josh Shapiro is sworn in in January.

    He reported that the place is running much more smoothly now.

    “I don’t think anybody here expects a repeat of Kathleen Kane’s administration anytime in the near or distant future,” he said.

    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal