Kath­leen Kane learns les­son about the law

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE -

No one is above the law. That in­cludes Kath­leen Kane, the for­mer Penn­syl­va­nia at­tor­ney gen­eral.

It was left to Mont­gomery County District At­tor­ney Kevin Steele to put the epi­taph on the stun­ning fall of Kath­leen Kane. “No one is above the law.” Kane ap­par­ently for­got that af­ter sky­rock­et­ing from ob­scu­rity to a ris­ing star in the Demo­cratic Party. Kane not only be­came the first woman and first Demo­crat ever elected to be Penn­syl­va­nia’s top law en­force­ment of­fi­cer, she was be­ing talked about for higher of­fice, pos­si­bly a run for U.S. Se­nate or the gov­er­nor’s man­sion. That was four years ago. Mon­day she was ush­ered out of a Mont­gomery County court­room in Nor­ris­town in hand­cuffs. She was whisked off to prison, sen­tenced to 10 to 23 months in county prison for leak­ing grand jury doc­u­ments to a news­pa­per in an at­tempt to ex­act re­venge on a bit­ter foe, an­other pros­e­cu­tor in the A.G.’s of­fice, then dou­bling down on her crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity by ly­ing about her ac­tions dur­ing her tes­ti­mony to a state in­ves­tiga­tive grand jury. Who­ever said hell hath no fury like a woman scorned should meet Kath­leen Kane. She’s the new poster prima donna for un­hinged per­sonal vendet­tas, per­sonal or other­wise. She was blinded — ironic be­ing that jus­tice is, af­ter all, sup­posed to be blind — in her de­sire to get back at an­other pros­e­cu­tor she blamed for leak­ing a story that painted her in a less than pos­i­tive light. It in­volved her de­ci­sion to deep-six a sting op­er­a­tion that tar­geted a se­ries of Demo­cratic elected of­fi­cials who had been caught on tape by an un­der­cover agent pock­et­ing gifts and cash. That sting op­er­a­tion was headed by Frank Fina, who Kane blamed for leak­ing the story.

It was not the first in­di­ca­tion that Kane might have been ill­pre­pared for the rig­ors — and eth­i­cal stan­dards — of the of­fice to which she was elected af­ter lit­tle more than a stint in a lo­cal pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice.

She gained no­to­ri­ety — and a ticket to Har­ris­burg — in a cam­paign based largely on her re­peated sug­ges­tion that the man who pre­ceded her — soon-to-be Gov. Tom Cor­bett, and his of­fice dragged their feet in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Penn State as­sis­tant coach Jerry San­dusky. An out­side in­ves­ti­ga­tion she or­dered af­ter tak­ing of­fice found that not to be the case.

Kane also cre­ated head­lines when she pro­nounced — with her usual flour­ish with the Con­sti­tu­tion Cen­ter in Philly — that she would not de­fend the state po­si­tion on the De­fense of Mar­riage Act, ap­par­ently de­cid­ing on her own which laws the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice would sup­port and which it would not.

But all of that pales in the vendetta she launched against Fina. Armed with a trea­sure trove of porno­graphic emails un­cov­ered as part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into how the of­fice han­dled the San­dusky probe, Kane painted her­self as at war with an “old boys net­work” that was trump­ing up the case against her in an at­tempt to keep those emails silent. It cost sev­eral Supreme Court jus­tices their jobs.

Ac­tu­ally, Kane should be com­mended for bring­ing this ugly prac­tice to light. But she had not for­got­ten Fina. And was bound to get her pound of flesh. In the process, her “scorched earth” plan of at­tack turned the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice into an us vs. them mael­strom, ex­act­ing pun­ish­ment against any­one who did not re­main loyal. Kane abused the power of her of­fice, and in the process abused the cit­i­zens of Penn­syl­va­nia. It was only when faced with the very real pos­si­bil­ity of join­ing those she put be­hind bars and that seemed in the least con­trite. The day of her con­vic­tion, she seemed un­moved, of­fer­ing a quip to a re­porter that “I have no re­grets.”

If only the same could be said for the rest of the state, as well as the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice that she scarred. This week, Kane’s friends and fam­ily pleaded for le­niency. Her sons told the judge how much they needed their mom. Kane noted her role as a sin­gle mother in ask­ing the judge not to sep­a­rate them. It was left for Mont­gomery County Judge Wendy Dem­chick-Al­loy to write the fi­nal chap­ter of “The Kane Scru­tiny.”

She cor­rectly noted that it was Kane her­self who set all th­ese wheels in mo­tion, and that she was not think­ing about her kids when she placed her hand on the Bi­ble and lied to a grand jury. In­stead, as usual, she was think­ing about her­self.

Af­ter a few hours in cus­tody, Kane was re­leased on $75,000 bail and once again set free pend­ing her ap­peal. It will be a bit longer — likely longer than the 10 to 23 months she was sen­tenced to — for Penn­syl­va­nia, the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice and the cit­i­zens of Penn­syl­va­nia, all of whom she be­trayed by her ac­tions, to re­cover. No one is above the law. Not even Kath­leen Kane.

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