Investigating the investigators
It became clear after last week's debate in the attorney general's race that both David Freed and Kathleen Kane are experienced prosecutors who are qualified to be the state's top law enforcement officer.
Freed, a Republican, and Kane, a Democrat, are ready to start day one to fill the job that Republican Tom Corbett held as attorney general before he was elected governor.
During the debate, Kane was the aggressor. Freed was on the defense through most of the live debate televised by the Pennsylvania Cable Network. Though some polls have shown Kane ahead, the former Lackawanna County assistant district attorney let it rip like a challenger with nothing to lose. Freed, the Cumberland County DA, came off as if he were the incumbent, taking no chances and, for the most part, refraining from attack.
You could see that each would be good before a jury.
Freed says the race is about experience. He's been a prosecutor for 15 years and managed an office of prosecutors since December 2005.
Kane, an assistant DA for 12 years, says the contest is about independence and integrity. She referred to Freed as Corbett's “handpicked candidate.”
Out of the gate, the first question from Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Baer focused on their view of Corbett's investigation of convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky and what if anything they'd do to review it.
Kane would conduct an independent investigation into why it took 33 months to arrest Sandusky. Freed said he'd review it like he'd review an allegation of excessive force by a police officer.
Why the focus on a successful case where Sandusky was effectively sentenced to prison for the rest of his life (30 to 60 years)?
Democrats claim Corbett poured his resources into the Bonusgate scandal rather than Sandusky. Kane said only one investigator was assigned to Sandusky initially and later two narcotics officers were added. She wonders why narcotics officers and not sex-crime specialists.
The suggestion by Kane and others is that Corbett, as a candidate for governor, dragged his feet to have the Penn State case explode after he was elected.
Corbett's spokesman Kevin Harley says but for Corbett we wouldn't know about crimes of the legendary coach and the Penn State cover-up.
Corbett has a lot riding on this race. So much so that Dennis Roddy, his speechwriter and special assistant, on his own time was in the crowd at Widener Law School auditorium. He appeared to be taking notes but later said he was fiddling with his iPad.
Freed says on one hand the verdict speaks for itself. He also says he understands there are questions.
The key difference between them is their attitude about investigating the investigators. Kane will go at it full blast. Freed will look it over.
Is that political on either of their parts? We'll see after Nov. 6.
Brad Bumsted is the state Capitol reporter for Trib Total Media (717-787-1405 or [email protected]).