Politically Uncorrected: The Fall of Kathleen Kane

Kane-sadAttorney General Kathleen Kane’s abrupt announcement that she would not seek a second term almost certainly writes finis – both on her political career, and on Harrisburg’s long running soap opera featuring the state’s first woman attorney general.

Under heavy pressure to resign, Kane so far refuses to do so. She also still faces 12 charges, including two felony counts, alleging a leak of grand jury material while the state legislature may yet move forward with impeachment. But while her legal fate is unknown, her political fate is now sealed.

This one is over–the tale has been told– fait accompli.

But where does the Kane saga belong in the notorious annals of Pennsylvania’s disgraced politicians?

Certainly, it doesn’t belong as part of the infamous history of corruption blazed by so many state politicians back to the Civil War era. The Kane epic is not about the petty venal corruption or graft that characterized so many past scandals and brought down so many state politicians.

Nor is it about the more modern abuse of using state resources for campaign purposes, such as the recent “bonus gate “scandals that wrecked so many political careers.

Indeed, Pennsylvania’s often-squalid politics offers little perspective on the political demise of Kathleen Kane. The Kane story doesn’t fit the corruption narrative at all.

If not corruption, then what did bring down someone who three years ago was one of the most celebrated politicians in the state, destined many believed to be a future governor or even a higher office?

It was character not corruption that brought Kane low. In particular four main character traits fated her fall as surely as a classic Greek tragedy.

  • TEMPERAMENT – Kane often seemed to lack the temperament needed to fulfill the duties of a statewide elected official. Her many and much documented quarrels with senior aides and consultants are illustrative (she has had seven press secretaries in her brief tenure). Probably most revealing was her long running feud with Frank Fina, who handled the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse case. Many of Kane’s problems seem directly linked to discrediting Fina and the fear that he would destroy her tenure as attorney general.
  • INEXPERIENCE – many of her early problems can be traced to her lack of public experience.  Prior to her election she worked as an assistant DA in Lackawanna County, which provided some experience as a prosecutor.  But she lacked managerial skills in running a large complex department. Typically, statewide office in Pennsylvania is only achieved after years of experience in local government or the legislature. Yet, Kane had never ran for any office or served in any elected capacity at the state or county level before her election.
  • BAD POLITICAL JUDGEMENT – Kane exhibited poor political judgement almost from the beginning, early on shutting down a promising corruption investigation, awkwardly threatening to sue a Philadelphia paper for printing unflattering stories about her, and ignoring staff advice again and again. Her stunning refusal to prosecute a sting operation involving four Philadelphia lawmakers and a traffic court judge particularly hurt her. The appearance of blatant partisanship was even more evident in her handling of the porn email scandal that engulfed her office – selectively releasing only material linked to persons she apparently hoped to embarrass politically.
  • POLITICAL ENEMIES – Kane in office embodied what one political scientist has called the “paranoid style in American politics.” She believed the state’s male dominated political establishment was conspiring against her. While there is little evidence of a conspiracy, she surely made enemies with her combative take no prisoner’s style. Tellingly, the felony charge that most unhorsed her – leaking testimony from a grand jury – is common and rarely prosecuted. In fact, the grand jury recommendation to indict her was itself leaked.

In the end, Kane’s political demise was more a suicide than a homicide. Still, it’s hard to see how her story might have turned out differently. Lack of experience, made worse by bad judgement, a temperament ill-suited for state politics, and the tendency to make enemies doomed her.

If character is fate, it was her fate to fall. And like a classic Greek tragedy, she met that fate.

305 Responses

  1. Don’t forget:

    I am a pervert and a racist. I did watch bestiality videos at work. I did demean black people by sending racist material from my State computer.

    I did try to cover-up my e-mails. Part of that cover-up was the attack on Kane
    I did steal files from the OAG. I tried to get the Feds to hire me. They laughed at me instead. And then they rejected my sting case – the one where I targeted Blacks.

    When I got to the DA’s Office , I didn’t stop targeting Blacks. When I took over the Salvation Army case, IO gave immunity to the White guys and went after the Black guys.

    I am a cheater. I lie.

  2. You may remember that I tried very hard to smear Corbett’s team. In the end, I was forced to retract all of it because of where the facts led.

    Believe me, I charged my investigator to leave no stone unturned. He was so good that he uncovered the porngate emails that family and I were a part of, but, the point is that I wanted so badly to put the abuse of boys on the shoulders of my enemies.

    Unfortunately for me it turned out that they were the heroes who probably protected many more victims–even today.

    It is Michael Jackson’s death that keeps his hands out of boys pants. It wasn’t his prosecutors. We should all be thankful that Corbett’s team did what California’s rush to arrest couldn’t do and keep a monster off of the street.

  3. Great article that lays out the Clown Car’s blueprint for going after their political enemies:

    The PA Corruption Network’s Playbook

    The similarities between the prosecution of Kathleen Kane and of the PSU 3 reveal the “playbook” of Pennsylvania’s corruption network

    The cases of current Pennsylvania Attorney General (AG) Kathleen Kane and that of former Penn State University (PSU) officials (i.e., the PSU 3) are connected by a common thread.

    A group of the Commonwealth’s attorneys, judges, political operatives, and their media accomplices — hereafter referred to as the “network” — used trumped up charges, purposely misinterpreted laws, and oversold highly dubious evidence to convict these individuals in the court of public opinion.

    After examining the timelines and evidence of these cases, it appears that the network has a well defined playbook for taking out its targets and it works like this:

    1. Individuals within the network fear their own heinous acts may be exposed and publicly accuse their opponents of crimes as a means of deflecting attention away from themselves.

    2. The network next co-opts individuals close to the target(s) –insiders — to assist in setting up the target(s) to be charged with perjury and other crimes.

    3. After the insiders have sufficiently undermined the targets (using various means of deception), the network’s attorneys and/or judges leak damaging information about the targets to the media.

    4. The media arm of the network uses the information in an attempt to compromise the targets or to promote guilt by association in the press.

    5. At the conclusion of this “framing,” that was mislabeled as a criminal investigation, attorneys go public with charging documents that allege crimes based on misinterpretations of the laws and that are chocked full of questionable testimony from unreliable witnesses, completely illogical scenarios, and dubious evidence. Perjury charges are standard in order to publicly smear the defendants as being dishonest individuals while attempting to pump up the veracity of the Commonwealth’s lousy witnesses (who would be eviscerated at an actual trial).

    6. The media accomplices ignore the illegal application of relevant laws, that the charging documents are illogical, the lousy witnesses, and the highly questionable evidence in order to continue treating the allegations as facts and even go as far as to allege the target committed crimes for which he or she has not been charged.

    7. The public falls for the deception and believes the targets are guilty of everything and are corrupt individuals — whether they have been charged with a crime or not. Citizen activists, public officials, and other groups and individuals — who are beneficiaries of the corrupt network — jump on the media bandwagon to publicly condemn the targets.

    8. Witting and/or unwitting employers recommend the targets be relieved of their duties or actually do so through employment actions — before anything is proven and without conducting a legitimate legal review.

    9. When legal proceedings in the cases reveal the false and questionable testimony put forth in the charging documents and the dubious evidence used in the case, the network’s media arm ignores the information and continues to slant the reports so the public continues to assume the targets are guilty.

    10. The legal issues from the misapplications of the laws result in appeals to the network’s judges, who refused to rule on simple matters and keep the trials on permanent hold. If the cases make it to trial, the targets will be convicted of lesser crimes — that the media will treat like crimes of the century.

    The network’s playbook achieves the goal of protecting its corrupt dealings and/or heinous crimes by never legally proving, but publicly scapegoating the targets in a media firestorm that is high in supposition and light on facts.

    To wit: the grand jury and Montgomery County DA Risa Ferman did not find the evidence to charge AG Kane with directly leaking grand grand jury information in the Mondesire case, but you wouldn’t know that if you just read the news headlines.

    Instead, they charged her with perjury (part of the playbook), lesser crimes, and for orchestrating the leaks, the latter of which Ferman and others know can’t be proven.

    Then again, the network’s playbook doesn’t include actually prosecuting the case.

  4. You are right my sister, it’s only misogynist if a man sends it, it’s only racist if a republican sends it and it’s only memorable if our enemies receive it.

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