Where does Kane's case go from here?
Attorney General Kathleen Kane's decision not to run for re-election appears to have given her the chance to serve out her term through at least most of 2016. If convicted of a felony at her August trial, she would have to step down — but not until sentencing, which could take several months. If acquitted, she'll be in office through early January.
There's reason to believe Senate Democrats had an idea she would make the announcement not to run, and they opposed (save for one member) an effort to remove her from office.
The impeachment process continues to get underway in the House, right? Well, House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, made it very clear that the sentiment among Democrats is it would be overkill to attempt to impeach Kane, given her subsequent announcement that she would not seek re-election.
Her fate, it seems, now is entirely in the hands of Montgomery County prosecutors who accuse Kane, a Democrat, of lying and covering up a grand jury leak. She faces two felony perjury counts, 10 lesser counts. She strongly maintains her innocence.
Kane's decision not to run “took the wind out of the sails” for many House Democrats, Dermody said.
Republicans still control the chamber. Even if Dermody's right, it does not mean there won't be a vote on articles of impeachment.
Timing is a major issue. The House still could ramp up the hearings and move forward. As Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township, put it: why would the House not take it up, as a matter of principle, if Kane's misbehavior rises to the level of impeachment?
Costs for an outside law firm are an issue — particularly with the state facing a $2 billion budget deficit — but Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery County, said he believes legal costs can be shaved by having one law firm represent Republicans and Democrats. In the 1994 impeachment of the late Supreme Court Justice Rolf Larsen, both parties in the House hired their own law firms at a total cost of about $1.5 million, Dermody said.
Republicans should now be happy, right? There always was a notion that the GOP wanted to keep Kane in office and dangle her voluminous troubles out over the next few months as Pennsylvania voters go to the polls to elect 203 House members, half the 50-member Senate and statewide officials, including a new attorney general.
Clearly, many Senate and House Republican legislators sincerely wanted her out. Ironically, it behooves Democrats and Democrat candidates, purely from a political standpoint, to have Kane resign or be removed.
Even if Stephens proceeds to a House vote on Kane's impeachment, the Senate has demonstrated the difficulty in getting a super majority (a two-thirds vote) on the removal effort. The Senate would sit as a jury on any House impeachment articles.
So, it appears Kane will be able to pursue her crusade against emails sent over the years to AG computer servers, including, pornographic attachments, dirty jokes and lewd comments.
Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter (717-787-1405 or [email protected]).