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Is Kathleen Kane's porn defense a smokescreen?

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It was two weeks ago that Attorney General Kathleen Kane claimed porn emails circulated in the Attorney General's Office were central to her defense but they were being held up by a grand jury judge.

No, the Supreme Court said last week. It said Kane was told last December that the porn emails were not grand jury material and that they could be released in an “appropriate” manner. What did “appropriate” mean? The court didn't say. But every lawyer I talked to about it thought it meant in a uniform way, not selectively, the way she released emails sent or received by former Republican officials who worked for ex-Gov. Tom Corbett when he was attorney general.

Kane, a Democrat, faces charges of perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from an alleged grand jury leak.

The judge she was blaming for the holdup was William Carpenter of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. It's not a good idea in this state to trash judges if you're a criminal defendant.

The Supreme Court waited a week. Then it responded. Again.

The court released a wide swath of emails attached to the AG's court filing. It did so at the request of whom? Judge Carpenter. So, again, Kane's argument appeared to be hollow.

The bigger question is how these emails — even if it's true that two ex-state prosecutors were out to get her — absolve Kane of criminal culpability if she did what's alleged in a criminal complaint filed by the Montgomery County district attorney.

What do they have to do with allegedly lying to a grand jury? Or oppression of a black Philadelphia newspaper publisher smeared by the leak she allegedly authorized to the Philadelphia Daily News?

If a former Daily News reporter hadn't called the ex-state prosecutors — Frank Fina and Marc Costanzo — about information from the grand jury, they never would have written a letter to Carpenter saying it appeared a “serious crime” might have been committed.

The idea that porn, reprehensible as it might have been to be sharing it on state computers, is the magic bullet to Kane's defense just isn't clear yet. And it likely never will be.

During the trial of Bonusgate defendants, attorneys for former House Democratic Whip Mike Veon of Beaver Falls argued he was a victim of “selective prosecution” by Republican Corbett. The judge wouldn't allow it as a defense. Veon either approved the use of tax money for staff bonuses for campaign work or he didn't. A Dauphin County jury found that he did and Veon was convicted.

Former Republican Sen. Jane Orie argued that Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala was out to get her. The trial judge wouldn't allow it. Even if it were true (and it wasn't proven to be so), it was not relevant. Orie either used her staffers to work on sister Joan Orie Melvin's campaign for the Supreme Court or not. An Allegheny County jury found Orie guilty and Melvin, a former justice, later was convicted.

Conspiracy theories only go so far.

Brad Bumsted is the Trib's state Capitol reporter (717-787-1405 or [email protected]).

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