The key issues facing Bruce Beemer
Now the clean-up effort begins.
Bruce Beemer, a former Allegheny County prosecutor, was nominated by Gov. Tom Wolf and likely will be confirmed by the Senate to serve as attorney general through the remaining four-plus months of convicted felon Kathleen Kane's term.
Beemer's the right guy. He knows the office having worked for former Attorney General Linda Kelly and then for Kane, most recently as first deputy. Beemer, now Wolf's inspector general, testified against Kane at grand juries and was on her you-know-what-list while still in the AG's office. She froze him out. She hired now-acting Attorney General Bruce Castor as solicitor general in March to have an experienced attorney she could count on for legal decisions and to further isolate Beemer. Kane's law license was suspended last October after she'd been charged with crimes. A Montgomery County jury convicted her Aug. 15 of perjury, obstruction of justice and official oppression.
Castor is viewed by many as a Kane operative, which he denies.
Beemer was not a rebel in the AG's office. He chose his battles carefully. He had the respect of most prosecutors and agents. He is a quiet leader.
Some key issues he'll face:
• Putting the brakes on more taxpayer dollars flowing to BuckleySandler, the Washington, D.C., law firm Kane hired to do an investigation of pornographic and otherwise offensive emails crossing AG servers. Former Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, of the same firm, has said the firm could be paid up to $2 million for the work. The tab now is nearly $900,000.
Expect the report soon. Is there a rush to get it out before Beemer takes over?
• Whether to fire Kane's former bodyguard and confidant, Patrick Reese, who snooped on office employees' emails to obtain information about the grand jury investigating her. Reese was convicted in a bench trial last December of indirect contempt of court. Under office policy, being charged with a crime should result in a suspension. But Reese has remained on staff at a salary of almost $100,000 a year. If that weren't enough, Kane's former political consultant Joshua Morrow testified at her trial that when he went to visit Kane, Reese took him to a parking garage. He confiscated his keys and cellphone. He then used an electronic device to make sure he wasn't wired. It requires probable cause to detain and search someone.
• Whether to fire Jonathan Duecker, another Kane acolyte, who was promoted to acting chief of staff by Kane. An agency personnel official recommended that Duecker be fired due to two sexual harassment complaints. The AG's office recently settled the lawsuit filed by former Human Resources official George Moore over his firing. He received a $150,000 settlement package.
• On a different issue, one has to wonder why House Republicans are insisting they'll continue with an impeachment investigation. As a convicted felon, Kane, a Democrat, can't hold office again. Partisan politics?
Brad Bumsted is the Trib's state Capitol reporter (717-7871405 or [email protected]).