Special deputy examining emails should return hard drive, AG official says
HARRISBURG — A special deputy appointed by Attorney General Kathleen Kane to examine office emails should return a computer hard drive because he has no formal contract with the office, a senior agency official said Wednesday.
Executive Deputy Attorney General Robert Mulle, acting at the request of First Deputy Bruce Beemer, in a recent conference call asked attorney Douglas Gansler to return the data because of “widespread belief that these emails contain a variety of protected information,” said Kane's spokesman Chuck Ardo.
Gansler, the former Maryland attorney general, said he does not intend to return the files. His personal contract is “just a logistical matter,” Gansler said.
His Washington law firm, BuckleySandler LLP, has a contract with the attorney general, and she “has the authority to appoint anyone she wants,” said Gansler, whose contract is for a salary comparable to Kane's $158,700 annual pay.
Leaked information with “absurd legal theories,” apparently originating from Beemer, need to stop and Beemer needs to do the job he was sworn to do, Gansler said.
It's not clear where Gansler's authority begins or ends, Ardo said.
He said he was not questioning whether Kane could make an appointment.
“There are certainly questions (internally) about the legitimacy of the appointment,” Ardo said.
Gansler's review of documents may risk disclosure of confidential informants, case strategies, investigative leads, police reports, criminal histories, privileged attorney information, and personnel and health-related issues of individuals, agency officials say.
Gansler has said he is an experienced former state and federal prosecutor who knows how to protect confidential information. He said he took an oath of secrecy not to divulge information.
The state Supreme Court in October suspended Kane's law license indefinitely because she is charged with 12 criminal counts in Montgomery County, where prosecutors accuse her of leaking grand jury information.
Kane on Dec. 1 named Gansler as a “special prosecutor” to look into pornography and crude emails that crossed office servers since 2008. Two weeks ago, Gansler was sent about 1 million personal emails, some of which are believed to contain pornography and lewd comments.
Kane approved their release.
Kane has publicly released some emails that resulted in resignations or departures from office in 2014 of former prosecutors and agents who worked for ex-Attorney General Tom Corbett, a Republican, and a Supreme Court justice.
Kane, a Democrat, disciplined about 60 people working for her who shared such emails. Her twin, Ellen Granahan, a top deputy in the office who sent and received insensitive emails, was not among those disciplined.
Granahan exchanged emails mocking illegal immigrants, Asian accents and blacks, and joking about spousal abuse. They were similar to emails of suspended Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin that Kane reported to the Judicial Conduct Board. The Court of Judicial Discipline suspended Eakin with pay last week, pending a formal hearing.
Brad Bumsted is the Tribune-Review's state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or [email protected].