Kane's sister received emails mocking Asians, blacks and domestic violence
HARRISBURG — The state attorney general's twin sister, a top prosecutor of Internet predators, received emails in the office mocking Asians and blacks, and joking about domestic violence and a small child in a cage. She forwarded with comment one email with a photo of a naked man in a sink.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane was copied on a 2009 email that poked fun at world leaders and showed a man's genitalia.
Kane, 49, of Scranton said she released her emails and those of her deputy, Ellen Granahan, to counter statements by a Philadelphia prosecutor that gave “a false and defamatory impression” that the sisters exchanged pornographic emails through the office computer system.
“I think they're every bit as offensive as the other emails,” said George Parry, a former federal prosecutor and Philadelphia lawyer. “… At this point, the number is irrelevant. She's been castigating people for sending and receiving these, and now she and her sister are doing it.”
Kane has accused former prosecutors, agents, police officers and judges of exchanging “pornographic, racist and misogynistic emails.” She recently hired a special deputy to review tens of thousands of emails in her hunt for pornography on state computers.
That deputy will investigate Granahan's 58 emails, said Kane's spokesman, Chuck Ardo, though Kane does not consider them offensive. They don't “rise to the level” of those she previously released, but some may be “in poor taste,” Ardo said.
“It's a matter of perspective. They could be viewed by some as mocking Asians,” he said. Kane and her sister believe there are no “pornographic or inappropriate emails.”
One that Granahan received in 2010 stereotypes Asian men, saying “ROR — Raff Out Rowd.” A “motivational poster” from 2009 was called “Asian Ghostbuster: Who ya gonna carr?”
Another shows a woman with a bruised face and the title, “Domestic Violence: Because Sometimes You Have to Tell Her More Than Once.”
A series of emails titled “Great Parents” included a photo of a black toddler clutching $100 bills and wearing heavy gold jewelry; an infant with a cigarette in his mouth; a kid riding a tricycle through traffic; and a toddler hitting the ground facedown. A man's leg behind her suggests she was thrown or kicked.
Yet another of Granahan's emails shows an obese black woman in a black dress, with the words, “Black: it ain't always slimming.”
The email that Kane received before taking office in 2013 was titled, “Pictures Taken At Exactly the Wrong Time (UNCLASSIFIED).” Her office redacted the name of the sender. The email includes photos of President George W. Bush holding a phone headset backward; Queen Elizabeth with a group of soldiers in kilts that expose one man's genitalia; and a black newscaster who resembles a suspect's rendering labeled, “Rapist Search.”
Granahan forwarded a 2010 email with the subject line, “Selling my dish water” and a photo of a naked man in a sink that hides his genitals. She wrote: “While I can't say for sure (since I can't see the whole unit) I believe that one just may fit perfectly.”
Former Attorney General Tom Corbett hired Granahan in 2008. After Kane took office, Granahan was promoted to head the Child Protection Unit and given a 19 percent pay raise. She is paid $88,509 annually; Kane's salary is $158,764.
Bruce Antkowiak, a law professor at St. Vincent College near Latrobe, said people are “inundated with email and, while certain patterns may emerge, it's hard to draw conclusions from it about anybody,” particularly from emails they receive.
Still, said J. Wesley Leckrone, a political science professor at Widener University in Chester, “the calls for releasing the emails may get stronger. There could be 20 other women on here, and it would be hard to argue it's the old boys' network,' ” as Kane has claimed.
Kane could go to trial in 2016 on 12 criminal charges related to a leak of grand jury information. The first woman and Democrat to hold the elected office, she has maintained that white Republican men manufactured an investigation of her.
“It seems less like an old boys' network in the attorney general's office than a culture of crassness,” Leckrone said.
Many of the emails originated outside the office and were shared within the agency.
Kane's selective release of emails led to some firings and resignations of people in government, including former Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffrey. She recently sent emails of Justice Michael Eakin to an ethics panel. He faces a disciplinary hearing Monday in Easton.
Eakin's attorney, William C. Costopoulos, said Kane should hold another news conference at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia “to explain this development.” She began such a news conference to announce her deputy to investigate pornography by showing lewd photos and emails mocking blacks.
She released the emails involving her sister and herself after Assistant District Attorney Mark Gilson told reporters Wednesday that Kane should make public 58 emails of her sister's and 11 of her own. Ardo said he did not know where Gilson came up with 11 emails for Kane.
Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or [email protected].