Beemer says he’ll bring ‘honor and integrity’ to Pa. AG’s office
HARRISBURG — Bruce Beemer said Tuesday that he will work to bring “a sense of honor and integrity” to the Office of Attorney General during his roughly four-month appointment as the state’s chief law enforcement officer.
The Pennsylvania Senate voted to confirm Beemer, Gov. Tom Wolf’s nominee, a little more than two weeks after a Montgomery County jury found former Attorney General Kathleen Kane guilty of two felony perjury counts and multiple misdemeanor offenses. The jury found that Kane leaked grand jury material, lied about it and orchestrated a cover-up effort.
“What happened — the conviction of Kathleen Kane — is a black mark on all Pennsylvanians,” said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County. “It’s very important to move the office forward quickly.”
Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Saylor swore Beemer into office Tuesday during a private ceremony in Wolf’s office.
Beemer, 47, of Bradford Woods is a former assistant district attorney in Allegheny County, where he prosecuted homicides, drug cases and other types of crimes. He later supervised the trial and appeals lawyers.
Beemer, a Democrat, went to Harrisburg in 2011 to serve as Republican Attorney General Linda Kelly’s chief of staff. He stayed on under Kane as a senior attorney and later as first deputy.
Senators emphasized that Beemer has the respect of staff members and knows how to step in and run the office. Beemer bucked Kane on occasion, and she eventually froze him out of information and decisions.
He won the confidence of many senators for his integrity during the Kane investigation. While Kane was firing people who opposed her, Beemer testified against her in grand jury investigations and at her trial in Norristown.
Wolf appointed Beemer to the watchdog position of inspector general last month. Beemer said he hopes to return to that post in January.
He told the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier Tuesday that he would try to bring honor and integrity to the office. Asked later by reporters how one restores honor, Beemer said, “You have to earn it.”
Tuesday was a rare one-day session during lawmakers’ summer recess.
The Senate had been scheduled to return to the Capitol on Sept. 26.
Senators have said they were looking for a clean break from Kane, who was convicted Aug. 15. Acting Attorney General Bruce Castor, who headed the office after Kane’s resignation, had been Kane’s choice to take over in the event she was convicted.
“I wish (Beemer) all the best,” Castor said. “He’ll do a great job, I’m sure.”
As for a report about offensive emails expected to cost taxpayers at least $900,000, Beemer said, “We will make sure we move as expeditiously as we can to review it. We have to make sure we protect the due process of those involved.”
Kane last December hired a special deputy, former Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, to review so-called pornographic emails that crossed Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General servers. Gansler defined inappropriate as “obscene material, nudity, offensive materials, such as racism or sexism.”
The report identifies “38 high-end senders” who sent more than 50 offensive emails and hundreds in an appendix who sent fewer than 50, according to a lawsuit filed by the union for narcotics agents.
Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks County, called the email scandal “a festering wound” that must be healed.
Two Supreme Court justices resigned over the scandal and many others lost their jobs in government and the private sector. Critics say Kane used the release of dirty emails as political weapons against opponents.
Beemer isn’t running for the seat. Republican Sen. John Rafferty and Democrat Josh Shapiro are competing in November to take over the seat when Kane’s term expires in early 2017.
Brad Bumsted is the Tribune-Review’s state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 and [email protected].