Senate moves toward removing Attorney General Kathleen Kane
HARRISBURG — The Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution to move forward with a hearing that could lead to a vote next month on removing Attorney General Kathleen Kane from office.
The resolution sets a Jan. 12 hearing for Kane to present her case, if she chooses, on how she is able to perform her duties without an active law license. She may also submit written testimony.
“The attorney general continues to believe the action taken by the Senate is unconstitutional and will decide how to proceed from this point forward,” Kane’s spokesman Chuck Ardo said.
Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County, said the “whole issue” is Kane’s ability to do the job with a suspended license. “This is not about the legal (criminal) issues she’s dealing with,” Corman said.
Is the commonwealth “at risk” in civil and criminal litigation because of Kane’s inability to practice law? Corman asked.
Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery County, supports the resolution but advises his colleagues to slow it down. “I would think we would take our time with this while the whole process unfolds,” he said.
Kane was suspended effective Oct. 22 by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Kane stands accused of two counts of felony perjury and 10 misdemeanors including obstruction of justice and oppression. Kane has repeatedly stated she broke no laws or committed any crimes.
Democratic senators said earlier in the Senate Rules Committee that by supporting the resolution, they are not making a statement about the validity of removing Kane.
“I’ll support the resolution for the basis of setting forth the basis of the hearing,” said Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Philadelphia.
“The vote is to give due process,” said Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, R-Bucks County.
Kane’s hearing would be held before the Senate Committee on Address, a bipartisan panel. Within 15 days of a hearing, a report and transcript would be sent to the Senate.
Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, an attorney, said Wednesday senators should dampen their expectations about Kane testifying. “I don’t know any attorney of note who would allow her to do so” while facing criminal charges, Williams said.
In November, the committee held three hearings with expert testimony about the office of attorney general, the constitution and what constitutes practicing law.
The Senate is controlled by Republicans. Kane, 49, of Scranton, is a Democrat elected in 2012.
The Senate is using Article VI Section 7 of the Pennsylvania Constitution that permits removal of a statewide elected officer, other than governor, lieutenant governor, and lawmakers, for “reasonable cause.” It requires a supermajority vote in the Senate directing the governor to remove her. That means a two-thirds vote with Democratic support.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf called for Kane to resign after she was charged in August, but Wolf hasn’t said what he would do if presented with a petition for her removal.
Kane says 98 percent of the job is administrative and 2 percent is legal. Many experts sharply disagree.
Kane maintains impeachment, which starts in the House, is the only viable constitutional option upon conviction of a crime.
Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media’s state Capitol reporter. He can be reached at 717-787-1405 or firstname.lastname@example.org.