An effort in Pennsylvania’s Senate to unseat Attorney General Kathleen Kane has fallen short of the two-thirds majority needed.
By a vote of 29-19, a move to invoke a section of the state Constitution — last used in 1891 — to remove Kane from office failed Wednesday.
Kane later called it “a good day for all those who share my desire to restore confidence in our judges and prosecutors and integrity to our system of justice.”
The question was whether Kane could do her job without a law license. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court temporarily suspended Kane’s law license in October after she was ordered to stand trial on conspiracy, perjury and other charges for allegedly leaking secret grand jury material and lying about it under oath.
Many Democrats argued that, although she is no longer an attorney in good standing, Kane is still a member of the state bar. Sen. Art Haywood of Montgomery County said there was not enough evidence that the entire attorney general’s office — including hundreds of prosecutors — cannot function.
“Do we think that’s the job of one person? The attorney general only?” he said. “Of course not, there’s an Office of Attorney General.”
The vote came down mostly along party lines with all but one Republican voting in favor of removing Kane and all but one Democrat voting against the resolution.
Following the vote, Republican leaders stressed the fairness of the process, which involved several months of hearings and a special committee dedicated to examining the legal questions before them.
Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnatti insisted Wednesday’s vote was not about politics or about Kane’s guilt or innocence.
“This isn’t about her corruption,” he said. “This is about the loss of a law license.”
In a statement, Kane vowed to press on with an investigation into the exchange of lewd and objectionable emails on state computers — the “porngate” scandal. She said the Senate vote will enable her to continue her investigation and help restore confidence in the state’s judges and prosecutors.
Meanwhile, the House voted 170-12 on Wednesday to authorize the Judiciary Committee to make a recommendation about whether Kane should be impeached.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Ron Marsico has said committee work on a Kane impeachment process could be finished in May or June.
The House is acting too hastily in giving a committee power to begin a process that could result in her impeachment, Kane responded in her statement. She said the House should wait to take up impeachment until the criminal case against her is over.