Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was indicted Aug. 6 with charges including perjury and abuse of office. Coming at the conclusion of a nine-month grand jury investigation, this is not surprising. What boggles the imagination however, is that the attorney general, who strongly denies any wrongdoing, has said that she will stay in office even while undergoing a criminal trial.
Being an effective public official requires having the public trust. Kane might not have to worry about re-election until 2016, but it might prove hard to credibly prosecute crimes while she has her own trial to worry about. It’s about whether she’s guilty or not — as Richard Nixon found, even the risk of prosecution can make holding a major office untenable. That makes her resignation long overdue.
Gov. Wolf put it lightly when he asked the defiant official to step down over these “serious charges.” Per the Montgomery County criminal complaint, “Kane violated the criminal laws of Pennsylvania and the solemn oath she swore upon assuming the office of Attorney General by engaging in a pattern of unlawful acts and deceit through the release of confidential investigative information and secret Grand Jury information and then testifying falsely during her appearance before the Grand Jury to conceal her crimes.”
Her alleged motive for releasing the information was to embarrass Frank G. Fina, a prosecutor who had led an investigation into corruption among Philadelphia Democrats. Kane chose not to prosecute any of them, but when the Philadelphia District Attorney later did, most suspects pled guilty. Kane believed Fina had been the source of a harshly critical Philadelphia Inquirer story relating to Kane’s decision in that case.
Got all that? Kane made a mistake, and is now alleged to have committed a crime to get revenge, and then another crime by lying to cover it up. People have lost their jobs over accusations of a lot less. If she truly believes herself to be innocent, then by all means she should defend herself in court, but she can’t in good conscience leave the people of Pennsylvania on the hook while her case drags on.