The Tribune-Review requested these emails under Pennsylvania’s open records law, which ensures that agencies are given access to records to which they are entitled. Sarah Yerger, a Harrisburg-based attorney for Post & Schell law firm representing Kane’s office, denied the request.
“To the extent the emails exist, the sought-after information does not constitute a ‘record’… that documents a transaction or activity of an agency,” said Yerger, a former senior deputy attorney general.
The emails included jokes and puns from staff members regarding pictures of scantily clad and topless women, and men and women engaged in sex acts.
Yerger said the emails “may be relevant to the investigation of violations of agency policies and the appropriate use of agency equipment.” She implied that the investigation isn’t a criminal one, citing a “non-criminal exception” to the Right to Know Law. Yerger said she could not give specifics about the investigation.
The emails circulated during a five-year period during Governor Corbett’s tenure as attorney general, and only came to light when Kane ordered an investigation of Corbett’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. Corbett told investigators at the time that he didn’t know of the emails while they were circulating, but it was later revealed that his campaign manager, Mike Barley, told him of the emails after the investigation.
The vulgar emails could risk the jobs of several employees still working in the attorney general’s office and have been the subject of much debate. When the emails were first discovered during Kane’s investigation, Cambria County Court Judge Norman A. Krumenacker III placed a freeze on the correspondence which made them inaccessible to the public.
Former Chief Deputy Attorney General Frank G. Fina, who led the Sandusky investigation, had argued to Krumenacker that because the emails were discovered during Kane’s internal review of the investigation, which involved grand jury material, they should not be made public.
However, Kane’s offices has since counter-argued that the emails do not contain any pertinent grand jury material and are non-criminal in nature. On September 19th, Krumenacker reversed his order and lifted the ban.
Kane has so far declined to release the emails, however, and has denied claims made by both the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Tribune-Review to view the documents.