- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania’s attorney general got help Tuesday from former Gov. Ed Rendell, a fellow Democrat, in her campaign to prevent the state Senate from voting to remove her from office.

Rendell testified to the Special Committee on Senate Address that his experience over eight years as Philadelphia’s elected district attorney made him think Kathleen Kane does not need an active law license to perform most of her duties.

The “vast, vast majority” of his job as head of a busy prosecutor’s office consisted of administrative tasks, police decisions, public relations and outreach, he said.

“In none of these functions did I act as a lawyer,” Rendell said. “I acted as an elected official.”

The committee has 15 days to draft a report, after which the Senate will decide whether to use an obscure section of the state constitution to unseat Kane over claims she is not able to do the job with a suspended license.

The Supreme Court put her license on temporary, indefinite suspension after Kane was charged in August with leaking secret grand jury information and lying about it under oath. That case is pending.

Kane did not appear at the four-hour hearing in the Capitol complex but released a lengthy letter to the committee saying direct removal by the Senate would deprive her and all Pennsylvanians of constitutional protections.

Questioning by the panel’s four Republicans was pointed and at times hostile, while the two Democrats - a third was a snow-related no-show - were clearly more sympathetic to Kane. If the Republican majority does take the matter to the floor, they will need some Democratic votes to reach the supermajority required.

The only other witness besides Rendell was Kane’s chief of staff, Jonathan Duecker, who said most of what the attorney general’s office does on a typical day does not involve the practice of law.

He warned senators that removing Kane would have “a catastrophic impact” on the agency and its 800-some employees.

Kane has argued the only legally permissible way for the Senate to remove her is by impeachment in the House followed by trial in the Senate.

Rendell told the committee he agrees.

“Do it the right way - impeach her, if that’s what you believe,” Rendell testified. “I really, deeply believe this is not the proper way to go. There are other, better avenues to pursue.”

The former governor noted Kane has just asked the Supreme Court to reinstate her license, and asked senators what that would mean for any plan to kick her out of office.

“I would urge you not to take action at all,” Rendell said. “But certainly not to take action before the Supreme Court has ruled on her request.”

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