- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A citizen activist filed an ethics complaint Tuesday against the state’s attorney general, accusing her of creating a conflict of interest by using government resources while she fights criminal charges.

Gene Stilp asked the state Ethics Commission to investigate Kathleen Kane’s use of her state security detail when she was arraigned Aug. 6 and her use of the Capitol Media Center to comment on her legal problems last week.

“The arrogance exhibited by this attorney general … is overwhelming,” Stilp said at a news conference in the Capitol Rotunda.

Stilp, a state government reform crusader, has filed lawsuits and ethics complaints before. They include a lawsuit in the aftermath of the 2005 pay raise scandal that prompted the state Supreme Court to declare that the Legislature violated the state constitution by permitting its members to accept illegal midterm pay raises in the form of “unvouchered expenses.”

Kane, the first woman and first Democrat elected attorney general in Pennsylvania, is accused of leaking confidential grand jury information to a newspaper to embarrass a former state prosecutor she thought made her look bad and then lying about it under oath. She has denied it.

She is free on a $10,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 24.

Kane spokesman Chuck Ardo said his boss didn’t breach the state Ethics Act. She is using her own money to defend herself against the criminal charges filed by the Montgomery County district attorney, and she reimbursed the state treasury for the $326 cost of providing a satellite feed of her news conference, the spokesman said.

“I would remind Mr. Stilp that Kathleen Kane is still the attorney general and is entitled to all the benefits that office deserves,” Ardo said.

The media center, a frequent site of government news conferences and briefings, is open to “members of the executive, legislative or judicial” branches of state government “for any non-political event, press conference or interview,” according to the Department of General Services website.

The department bills state agencies that use the facility but does not impose any other limits on which officials may use it, said spokesman Troy Thompson.

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