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Putrid Pennsylvania: Kaned

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JOSHUA MORROW testified that he had been taken to a parking garage and searched for a recording device. His wallet, phone and keys were taken away. Mr Morrow, a political consultant, was patted down by the security detail of Kathleen Kane, the attorney-general of Pennsylvania, before they met for lunch. Over the meal, they hatched a plot to deny illegally leaking secret documents from a grand-jury proceeding. Mr Morrow’s tale was one of many such details revealed during Ms Kane’s trial. Her tenure in office, which started with such promise, ended in a conviction on nine charges, including perjury and conspiracy, on August 15th. She resigned a day later.

Ms Kane was elected in a landslide in 2012. Not only was she the first woman to become the state’s attorney-general; she was the first Democrat to win since the job became an elected position in 1980. She had a good start. During her first year she earned praise for calling Pennsylvania’s ban, then in force, on same-sex marriage “wholly unconstitutional” and refusing to defend the state in a federal lawsuit against it. She also took a stand in favour of gun control, preventing Pennsylvanians who had been denied state permits from buying guns in other states. Pundits speculated she would soon run for higher office.

During her election campaign, she vowed to review the handling of the Jerry Sandusky case. Mr Sandusky was a popular football coach at Pennsylvania State University, who had been accused of raping and molesting ten children. She suggested that the then attorney-general had slowed the investigation in the run-up to an election, so as not to upset fans of the Penn State football team. Mr Morrow testified under immunity that Ms Kane believed Frank Fina, a former star prosecutor who had headed the Sandusky case, had planted a negative story about her in a local newspaper. According to the complaint and testimony, Ms Kane began leaking secret documents from the grand-jury investigation to the press. She then concocted lies to cover up this abuse of power, blaming a senior deputy.

She leaves behind 750 demoralised staffers in the attorney-general’s office. Cases have reportedly unravelled. Some lawyers have left, many who remain have been questioned, and some have filed suit. Earlier this month her office paid out $150, 000 to settle a former employee’s lawsuit. Ms Kane will be sentenced in October. She has already lost her law licence and faces up to 28 years in prison.

Pennsylvanians are accustomed to politicians and officials leaving office in disgrace. While she was riding high, Ms Kane’s office investigated state employees, including two judges, and found they had exchanged thousands of pornographic, racist, homophobic and misogynistic e-mails on state computers. Some of the e-mails were released to the press, who of course dubbed the scandal “Porngate”.

The Centre for Public Integrity, an NGO which grades state governments, gives Pennsylvania an F for its entrenched culture of malfeasance. It is ranked 45th in the country for integrity. Three former House Speakers and a former Senate president have all been convicted of corruption. State lawmakers have been involved in various public corruption cases going back at least four decades. In 1995 another attorney-general pleaded guilty to fraud involving campaign contributions. According to a poll by Franklin and Marshall College, Pennsylvanians are more concerned about corruption than the economy.

Ms Kane’s case is a bit different. It was not about corruption in the typical way, says Terry Madonna of the Centre for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College. It was not about illicit campaign contributions or bribery. “It was personal. It’s a story about retaliation, retribution and revenge.”

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Julio Marchi ©

Publisher / Editor at BS News & Media Services
A free thinker, not labelled as anything, not associated with any party, not part of any group or engaged with any religion... A simple guy tired of the nowadays bullshit who decided to promote more serious debates about what is really happening hoping to bring back intelligence to the superficial and shallow news & headlines that unfortunately took over the existing media scene.
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