House considers possible impeachment process against AG Kane
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A second process to consider the possible removal of embattled Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane got underway Tuesday in the form of a House resolution authorizing an investigation with subpoena power.
The two-page resolution, sponsored by Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming, would direct the Judiciary Committee to make recommendations about Kane’s possible impeachment.
Kane, a first-term Democrat, has been without a law license since October, when the state Supreme Court suspended it while she battles criminal allegations she leaked secret grand jury information and lied about it under oath.
The House procedure was proposed a day before a special Senate committee is due to make public a report, after which the full chamber could decide to use an obscure constitutional provision to remove her from office. The Senate has focused on the impact of losing her law license on Kane’s capacity to do her job.
Kane issued a statement saying that as a taxpayer she wonders why Republicans are devoting time and money to remove “an independent attorney general who has initiated an investigation by a special prosecutor into racist, misogynistic and homophobic emails circulated by government officials.”
Kane has challenged the constitutionality of the Senate process, and also recently asked the Supreme Court to reinstate her license, saying the vote to suspend it was improper because of the involvement of Justice Michael Eakin, currently awaiting trial in an ethics court over his participation in trading salacious and objectionable emails. Kane informed the high court and state ethics agencies this fall about Eakin’s use of emails, which could result in his removal from the bench.
The House resolution would have the Subcommittee on Courts gather witness testimony, prepare and file pleadings and other legal documents and make recommendations to the Judiciary Committee. Judiciary would then also take witness testimony, and envisions funding to hire staff. It passed Judiciary unanimously Tuesday.
Judiciary Chairman Ron Marsico, R-Dauphin, said discussions about a House-started impeachment process have been going on for about two months.
“Is she doing the job as attorney general?” Marsico said. “Or is her staff doing the job she’s supposed to do?”
Kane’s written statement said some of the emails she has reviewed involve federal prosecutors who live in Marsico’s Harrisburg-area district.
“Why isn’t the Judiciary Committee looking into a judicial system that is clearly broken?” Kane wrote. “I would hope that political fury does not trump a fair and impartial justice system for the people of Pennsylvania.”
Most of 59 co-sponsors of the impeachment resolution are Republicans and it’s unclear whether Kane’s fellow Democrats will support her removal.
“We support a fair process that doesn’t dictate a particular outcome,” said House Democratic spokesman Bill Patton. “The House Judiciary Committee is the best committee to handle this and we know Chairman Marsico will lead a thorough and fair inquiry.”
Marsico said committee work on a potential Kane impeachment could be finished by May or June.
Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery, who was named chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts on Tuesday, said he spent the weekend reading up on the state’s most recent impeachment process. Supreme Court Justice Rolf Larsen was impeached by the House and removed by the Senate in 1994.