Attorney General Kathleen Kane explained the reasons that her office could not prosecute the now-famous public corruption case out of Philadelphia in a press conference Monday morning.
“We could not prosecute this case,” Kane told members of the press. “We made the correct decisions, I would make that same decision all over again and again and again, despite the criticism we have seen over the last couple of days.”
The hubbub over this case comes after a Sunday article in the Philadelphia Inquirer that explored the reasons why the AG’s office would shut down a three-year sting investigation that produced evidence of lawmakers accepting money in exchange for votes.
According to the investigation, State Rep. Ronald G. Waters (D-Philadelphia) reportedly accepted $7,650 in bribes, while State Rep. Vanessa Brown (D-Philadelphia) accepted $4,000, State Rep. Michelle Brownlee accepted $3,500 (D-Philadelphia), and State Rep. Louise Bishop (D-Philadelphia) accepted $1,500. Traffic Court Judge Thomasine Tynes was also implicated for accepting a $2,000 Tiffany bracelet. All those allegedly accused are African American and members of the Democratic Party.
The reasons for not pursuing charges in the three year investigation were fourfold, according to Kane’s office: traditional law enforcement techniques and reporting were not used; the case was poorly managed, the credibility of the confidential informant was gravely damaged; and there was evidence of racial targeting.
The most damaging of which was the confidential informant who, according to Kane, became uncooperative at one point.
“It was the deal of the century,” Kane said. “Over 2,000 charges were dropped [against the CI].”
Kane said that her hands were tied and that the case had been dormant for months before she even took office. However, when she did assume the office, her administration re-examined the tape recordings from the CI, and presented them to a federal agency and local legal authority – both of whom decided against pursuing charges.
At this point, it appears as though the tapes will not be released to the public.
“Why dont we just release the tapes?,” Kane asked rhetorically. “Because they are still evidence. If the case goes somewhere else, if another agency takes over the case, we have to maintain the chain of evidence.”
While the tapes may not ever be released, Kane hinted that there may be hard evidence of racial targeting, after two individuals went to two different authorities to report that they were told to pursue only members of the African American caucus.
Kane is the fourth Attorney General to have access to the tapes, and the fourth to decline to bring charges.
Several members of the press pushed Kane on whether the AG’s office could move forward and reinvestigate the targets in a better-run operation.
“You can’t pretend it didn’t happen. It did happen,” Kane said.
According to her estimate, approximately $20,000 of taxpayer money had been used in the operation, and gone to eight different targets.
“I’m here to set the record straight,” Kane said. “I’m not here to bash a newspaper, I’m here to bash the anonymous sources who didn’t even have the guts to attach their names to it.”
She repeatedly pointed out her office’s commitment to prosecuting public corruption, and that they have already pursued 10 cases where the alleged were Democrats, dispelling beliefs that the shutdown of this sting operation was politically motivated.