‘Porngate’ emails did not compromise Pa. justice system, AG says

Pennsylvania Attorney General Bruce Beemer speaks during a news conference at the state Capitol in Harrisburg Tuesday. Beemer says a review spurred by the revelation that employees had swapped sexually explicit and offensive material for years through office email found no evidence that the administration of justice had been undermined. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Pennsylvania Attorney General Bruce Beemer speaks during a news conference at the state Capitol in Harrisburg Tuesday. Beemer says a review spurred by the revelation that employees had swapped sexually explicit and offensive material for years through office email found no evidence that the administration of justice had been undermined. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

After a yearlong review of more than 6 million emails sent in and out of the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office, interim Attorney General Bruce Beemer said Tuesday that there’s no evidence any of the emails would have impacted the fairness of the justice system.

“There is no evidence that prosecutors engaged in improper communication or contact with judges in this commonwealth that have affected the administration of justice or the outcome of cases,” he said.

The investigation — undertaken by Washington, D.C.-based firm BuckleySandler — was ordered by former Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who’s now been convicted of perjury.

Beemer said he doesn’t think the review was ultimately in the commonwealth’s — or taxpayers’ — best interest.

BuckleySandler’s original report was finished in August, and flagged nearly 12,000 emails as inappropriate.

Beemer, who took office at the end of that month, said it was clear that the report was “extremely overinclusive.”

Among the emails flagged were one from “a Jewish employee sending a friend an article about how Jewish people voted in the 2010 election …  [and a] Catholic employee confessing to another employee that he’d eaten a hot dog on a Friday during Lent,” Beemer said.

In addition, he said “any email that mentioned Irish, Italians, Polish, or African Americans was flagged as inappropriate.”

Beemer said the office was forced to comb through the emails and decide which were actually problematic.

Out of the emails the office identified as truly offensive, 13 were sent by state judges and senior government officials; 38 people were named “high-volume” senders.

But no names were released. Beemer said there were simply too many concerns about privacy and other issues.

“I had to be very mindful about the consequences of naming all of these individuals under the circumstances in which we found this report,” he said.

The entire email dispute dates back to 2014, when Kane discovered agency staff sending lewd messages; she publicly outed eight of them.

That move kicked off the long road towards Kane’s own federal conviction this summer.

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