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Heyl: Kane in sticky situation

Distraction adheres to Kathleen Kane like military-grade epoxy.

As Pennsylvania’s attorney general, she and her staff should singularly be focused on bringing criminals to justice. But the bizarre activities occurring in Kane’s scandal-plagued office indicate that the attention being paid to that mission clearly is lacking.

That’s an enormous and potentially career-threatening problem for the state’s highest-ranking law enforcement official.

The distractions are many, their disturbing extent such that people could be forgiven for assuming the FX cable channel’s “American Horror Story: Freak Show” films on location in Kane’s office. Space limitations prevent a full accounting, but when they could have been chasing crooks, people in the A.G.’s office instead have been:

• More interested in pornography than prosecution.

More than 60 staffers recently were identified as participants in an office pornographic and offensive email exchange, an activity curiously absent from their job descriptions. It’s difficult to adequately prepare for an afternoon in court when your morning is spent in hardcore heaven.

• Creating a child pornography controversy.

Kane on Tuesday told CNN that some of the shared images included child pornography, then backtracked a day later and had a spokeswoman say the pictures — which included images of toddlers smooching and a small boy urinating on a wall — didn’t rise to kiddie-porn level.

• Testifying before a grand jury instead of presenting evidence to one.

When the boss spends several hours of the workday responding to a subpoena, it doesn’t set a good example to the rest of the employees not to goof off by viewing a little porn. Kane did that on Monday, spending 2½ hours before a grand jury investigating possible leaks to the media by her office.

• Crafting a Bible-length explanation as to why an explanation can’t be offered.

Kane and her attorney on Monday released a nine-paragraph statement regarding why she couldn’t fully explain why she testified before the grand jury. Though the statement was sufficiently long that it could have been broken up into chapters, it was so bereft of details that it didn’t even directly address the subject of the investigation.

• Finding the ideal crisis communications consultant.

Kane has not publicly shared how much time she took before deciding to retain Lanny Davis, an attorney who was special counsel to President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial and advised Penn State during the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. But every minute spent vetting crisis manager candidates was a minute in which her attention wasn’t focused on the job she was elected to do.

See? Distraction adheres to Kane like military-grade epoxy.

That certainly explains why she finds herself in the stickiest of situations.

Eric Heyl is a Trib Total Media staff writer. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or [email protected].


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