The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Board is calling on the court to temporarily suspend the law license of state Attorney General Kathleen Kane. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Friday that the action came in response to criminal charges filed against Kane last month. Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman alleges that the attorney general leaked secret grand jury information to discredit a rival prosecutor, directed staff to cover it up, and then lied to the grand jury when asked about her conduct in the matter.
Kathleen Kane should resign as attorney general.
Her uncovering of pornographic and otherwise offensive emails shared by employees of the Attorney General’s Office and others on their taxpayer-funded email work accounts was no doubt a service. Such abuse of taxpayer dollars needed to be exposed — if only to warn others against beginning or continuing such behavior.
Despite the bizarre news conference she held Aug. 12 in Harrisburg during which she proclaimed her innocence, Kane cannot legitimately tie the charges against her to the email scandal.
Prosecutors rely on grand juries to investigate criminal activity. Those who testify rely on grand jury secrecy, trusting that information that’s embarrassing but not criminal will be kept under wraps. The very job Kane does depends on her doing her best to keep that trust.
Kane maintains she has done nothing wrong. She says she will stay on the job while she fights charges that include perjury and obstruction of justice. And she implied during her news conference that she could still do it well.
As a matter of logic, that is not true.
Given the charges against her, it has become impossible for Kane to effectively do her job as Pennsylvania’s top prosecutor.
On top of being charged with perjury, a felony at the heart of the criminal justice system for which she is the face, Kane is threatened with the loss of her law license.
Without it, she is not qualified to serve as attorney general.
Even before the emergency suspension process plays out — Kane has 10 days to respond and the Disciplinary Board would have 10 days to answer her response — the fact that the 13-member Disciplinary Board is calling for a suspension is an important vote of no confidence. The board is charged with upholding the Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys in Pennsylvania. That is a true board of Kane’s peers — 11 attorneys and two individuals outside the profession. This is a group the state’s top prosecutor should, at a minimum, impress enough to be considered worthy of an attorney’s basic credential.
This is not about convicting Kane before she has had the chance to defend herself.
This is about the loss of confidence in her ability to do the job she was elected to do.
Gov. Tom Wolf, a fellow Democrat, has lost confidence.
The Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Board has lost confidence.
The distractions she faces in defending herself against the charges are immense, impeding her ability to devote full attention to her role as public servant.
Kane owes it to the voters, who put trust in her to serve as the state’s top prosecutor in November 2012, to step down.
She can seek a full second term in November 2016 if she is not found guilty.
Kane should put the people’s interest first and resign. Today.