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Senate panel hits pause button on Kane removal

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HARRISBURG

There's little wonder Attorney General Kathleen Kane typically has that smirk on her face. She is playing hardball — for keeps — in an effort to keep her law license, stay out of prison and serve the remainder of her term through January 2017.

But the politicians who have tried to remove her from office have done so with half-measures. While perhaps well-intentioned, actions of the Supreme Court and the Senate and House have appeared tentative and wishy-washy.

A special Senate panel punted last week when it recommended a vote on removing Kane from office only if the Supreme Court upholds its suspension of her law license. There's nothing wrong with being careful and waiting until the court rules on Kane's petition to reinstate her license. But the watered-down language stated a vote should be held “without making a determination on removal.”

The very point of forming this panel was to determine whether Kane is able to do her job without an active law license. The evidence overwhelmingly suggested she can't. The committee is recommending nothing be done now.

What do you expect when a waffling Supreme Court suspended Kane's law license last fall but said it wasn't removing her from office? So started the game of political hot potato.

The court essentially said the issue of removal is up to the Legislature. The Senate then volleyed back to the court, saying it should decide about her law license first.

Kane's appeal of her license suspension effectively thwarted the effect of the Senate report, which could have been devastating.

Partial measures don't work against someone burning all bridges and taking no prisoners as she fades from the political scene. She faces 12 criminal charges and potentially a removal vote — depending what the court does.

Kane, meanwhile, is using offensive emails and porn attachments that crossed her office servers to burn those who cross her. Kane even named a special prosecutor at a cost to taxpayers of up to $2 million “to look for material that at most will embarrass folks,” said Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli. Emails mocking women, gays and others are reprehensible but not a crime. There's no need for a special prosecutor, said Morganelli, a candidate for attorney general. “It appears that the goal here is not to look at folks who may be committing a crime, but rather to find a crime against someone,” Morganelli said.

The point is, right or wrong, Kane is playing hardball while her critics are using a Wiffle ball.

Then you have the House. Nearly six months after she was charged with crimes — and when the Senate process is winding down — the House explores impeachment. If the House ever moves forward it will be mid to late summer before articles of impeachment hit the Senate floor for a trial.

With a few delays in her criminal case, Kane might serve out the remainder of her term.

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

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