HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania’s embattled attorney general faces a fourth and final Senate hearing this week in a process that could lead to her removal from office on grounds that she can’t perform the duties of the job while her law license remains suspended.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane said through a spokesman Friday she does not intend to be there when the Special Committee on Senate Address convenes Tuesday to hear from her, a prerequisite under an obscure state constitutional provision that may soon be used against her.
The spokesman, Chuck Ardo, said that Kane expects to meet a deadline of noon Monday to submit a written statement of some sort, and that her supporters may speak on her behalf. Kane, a first-term Democrat, has said the Senate cannot remove her on its own to avoid the process of a House impeachment followed by a Senate trial under a different section of the state constitution.
“She believes it’s unconstitutional, but she also, out of respect for the Senate as an institution, feels it necessary to respond,” Ardo said.
Tuesday’s hearing will be followed within 15 days by a committee report. It’s unclear whether the full Senate will take up Kane’s possible removal, which would require a supermajority.
“This is an opportunity for her to testify, to present information, to present documentation,” said the chairman, Sen. John Gordner, R-Columbia. “And I’m withholding any judgment until after Tuesday.”
Her license was placed on temporary, indefinite suspension by the state Supreme Court about two months after prosecutors in suburban Philadelphia charged her in August with criminal violations that include leaking secret grand jury information and lying about it under oath. Kane has vigorously denied the allegations. A trial date has not been set.
Kane was charged with allegedly providing a Philadelphia Daily News reporter with details about a scuttled grand jury investigation into the head at the time of the NAACP in Philadelphia.
The first elected woman and first Democrat to hold the office since it was created more than three decades ago, Kane promised voters in 2012 that if elected, she would examine how the Jerry Sandusky child molestation investigation was handled under her predecessors.
That probe found no evidence that decisions were made for political reasons under Tom Corbett, a Republican who was later elected governor.
It did, however, turn up evidence on attorney general’s office computer servers that state prosecutors, lawyers and judges had been trading sexually explicit and otherwise objectionable emails. That metastasizing scandal has already forced one Supreme Court justice to abruptly retire, led to pending ethics charges and a suspension against another, and caused dozens of people to lose their jobs or be disciplined.
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