‘Porngate’ investigators back to work with $159,000 tab running

    Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane initiated an exhaustive review of controversial email in December. (AP file photo)

    Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane initiated an exhaustive review of controversial email in December. (AP file photo)

    How long will it take a special investigator appointed by Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane to make sense of tens of thousands of emails traded among among Pennsylvania judges, prosecutors and lawyers? A little longer than expected, apparently.

    In December,  Kane appointed former Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, who with his staff would review tens of thousands of emails. Hundreds of emails previously released in Pensylvania’s  “porngate” scandal had ended several careers.

    Gansler was ready to present a preliminary report Tuesday, but Kane’s Solicitor General Bruce Castor said the report was not comprehensive and included too many emails that were redacted. He canceled the release and sent the investigators back to work.

    Gansler’s law firm, BuckleySandler, LLP has been paid $159,740 so far, according to the attorney general’s office, but the tab is sure to grow. Those are just billings for December and January.

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    If the firm continued working from February through May at the same billing clip as January, the cost to taxpayers so far will exceed $500,000.

    Former federal prosecutor Pete Vaira, who’s called for a review of the emails for months, said it’s worth waiting for a thorough review, because the exchanges of racially offensive and pornographic material suggest a too-cozy relationship among legal parties who should be at arm’s length .

    “If a prosecutor is communicating with a judge, sending him sensitive stuff that you would not send even to your brother-in-law perhaps, what does this mean about the relationship between the judge and prosecutor and on very sensitive matters of trying the cases?” Vaira said.

    In a release late Tuesday, Castor had kinder words about Gansler’s efforts, but said he will still hold off on releasing the interim report a bit.

    Castor said in a statement that Gansler had provided “an objective, extensive and independent review” of the emails, and that Castor’s office now has “available to it the complete record that is the basis for the interim report.”

    Castor said additional information will be included in an addendum to the report, and that it should be completed next week.

    “A press conference will then be scheduled  at the earliest available date thereafter,” Castor’s statement said.



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