Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was sentenced on Monday to between 10 and 23 months behind bars after being convicted on nine counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, leaking grand jury documents to a local paper in an effort to embarrass political enemies, and then lying about it under oath.
Kane was the Democrat’s fair-haired child when she became the state’s first female and first Democrat to be elected to the office of attorney general in 2012. She won the election in a landslide, and rumors began to circulate suggesting she might run for the Senate. She rode into office with endorsements from former President Bill Clinton and the Philadelphia Enquirer.
During her campaign she promised, if elected, to determine if her predecessor had drawn out his investigation into the Penn State sexual abuse scandal for political reasons. She kept her promise, but in the process of finding that there was no political motivation behind the three-year-long investigation, she uncovered crude, rude messages and pornographic websites being disseminated and viewed between and among top state officials.
Termed “Porngate” by the press, she started exposing the e-mails slowly, over time, causing much embarrassment among the senders and receivers, resulting ultimately in many of them resigning their positions. The downfallen politicians included a Pennsylvania environmental secretary, a state police commissioner, and a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice, along with several former officials in the AG office.
Marc Levy, writing on the mess for the Associated Press, condensed it as best he could into this summary, dated November 5, 2015:
On the campaign trail, [Lane] promised to investigate why it took her Republican predecessors three years to charge Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach convicted of sexually abusing boys, and whether politics played a role.
After Kane took office, a special appointee concluded that the Sandusky case had not been dragged out for political reasons. But the inquiry unearthed a trove of office emails containing porn and jokes about women and minorities that many found offensive.
Kane’s criticism of the Sandusky prosecution also triggered a bitter feud with investigators who handled the case, and in 2014, authorities say, she leaked confidential grand jury information to the Philadelphia Daily News in an attempt to show that two of them had bungled a corruption investigation.
Kane was charged in August with obstruction, perjury and other offenses. No trial date has been set.
As authorities began building the leak case against her, Kane started releasing chains of emails, saying the misconduct allegations against her were concocted by a corrupt old-boy network inside law enforcement to stop her from exposing their raunchy email ring.
Montgomery County (Pa.) District Attorney Kevin Steele summed up the case:
It seemed that we had somebody [Kane] who felt that she was above the law, and that’s not the case because no one is above the law. We are a very honorable profession here. We have rules that we have to abide by, and there are no exceptions to that….
During her tenure as attorney general, Kane behaved in a paranoid manner and repeatedly misused her official authority to advance her personal vendettas.
Upon learning of her conviction, Kane posted a $75,000 bond and remains free while she appeals her sentence. What is clear is that she will likely soon have plenty of time to ponder a question similar to one being posed nationally: “Why am I serving time for alleged charges that are much less serious than those attributed to Hillary Clinton? If it’s true that Steele is right, that 'no one is above the law,' then why isn’t Hillary going to jail along with me?”