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Pennsylvania AG Kane terminates at least 6 employees due to porn emails | TribLIVE.com
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Pennsylvania AG Kane terminates at least 6 employees due to porn emails

Tribune-Review
| Thursday, November 6, 2014 3:28 p.m
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Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who could be charged criminally for grand jury leaks, said Thursday that she fired a supervisor because responsibility for leaks from an unspecified “sitting grand jury” fell to him.

HARRISBURG — A scandal that implicated top state officials in email chains transmitting pornography has prompted the first firings in the Attorney General’s Office, where the email sharing was based, the Tribune-Review has learned.

Six or more office employees have been terminated or offered early retirement, said sources familiar with an internal investigation by Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

Kane’s office declined to comment.

Kane investigated as many as 30 employees who might have sent or received pornographic emails and crude jokes, spokeswoman Renee Martin has said. Martin has said before the office would release no names, though that was not clear Thursday.

“You’ve got to be explicit” in explaining it, said Christopher Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College. “If you’re vague, and you are holding back, it’s not going to go away.”

In September, Kane, a Democrat, released emails and sexually explicit images received or sent by eight former prosecutors and an agent from former Republican administrations.

The Trib broke the email story in late August with reports that a grand jury judge, who later reversed his decision, temporarily delayed the release of sexually explicit emails transmitted under former administrations of ex-Attorney General Tom Corbett, now governor, and his hand-picked successor, Linda Kelly.

Corbett and Kelly have said they were unaware of the emails and would have stopped the practice.

The Trib requested the emails under the Right to Know Law. Kane denied the request but later used her discretion to provide some of the messages.

An office policy that Corbett signed in 2006 prohibits “suggestive, pornographic or obscene material” on agency computers.

Six former state officials lost or left their jobs as a result of the scandal. The highest ranking is ex-Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery, who announced his retirement last month after the high court suspended him for sending and receiving hundreds of explicit emails.

McCaffery’s emails were not part of the package Kane disclosed. The Morning Call of Allentown obtained them and published a story.

Many of the emails McCaffery sent went to a since-retired agent in the Attorney General’s Office who circulated them in the office.

“I don’t remember anything like this in modern Pennsylvania history,” said G. Terry Madonna, a political commentator and pollster. “The whole situation is literally without precedent.

“Its tentacles continue to reach. We don’t know where it will end up.”

Kane, sworn into office in January 2013, became aware of the emails when a special investigator examining Corbett’s prosecution of serial child sex predator Jerry Sandusky discovered them among millions of internal emails that were deleted and reconstructed.

Kane may release a complete summary of her internal investigation next week, Martin said.

Critics claimed it was unfair for Kane to name eight former officials in September and not name those still working for her. Most of the current employees are members of unions, and union agreements prevent the release of internal discipline, including reprimands placed in personnel files, her office said.

“The burden is on her to make clear her decisions on this,” said Borick of Muhlenberg College.

“She’s had a rocky year,” Borick said. “She has to handle the situation really well.”

Kane is at home recovering from a concussion suffered in an accident last month in her state vehicle driven by a security officer, Martin said.

A tech in Kane’s office last month provided reporters with a presentation of sample emails that ranged from partially nude and nude women to people engaged in sex acts.

Kane’s Sandusky probe examined why it took Corbett nearly three years to prosecute the former Penn State assistant football coach. Contrary to her 2012 campaign assertions, Kane found no foot-dragging for political reasons by Corbett.

Some analysts viewed the uproar on campus after Sandusky’s 2011 arrest, including the firing of late, legendary head coach Joe Paterno, as politically volatile for a gubernatorial candidate.

Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media’s state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com.

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