Kathleen Kane learns lesson about the law
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.