AG Kane talks porn emails and public corruption

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D) broke her silence about the spiraling pornographic email scandal that’s enveloped the Capitol for months and alluded to powerful forces that are preventing her from telling the whole story.

She granted her lone television interview to CNN’s Sara Ganim, the former Harrisburg Patriot-News reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the Jerry Sandusky saga.

Kane insists she wants to investigate the porn scandal further, but is being held back.

“Even I am shocked at the level of public corruption,” Kane said. “I am shocked at how deep it goes and I am shocked at how powerful it is. I have never seen anything like this. It is breathtaking. It has been described by the people familiar with what is happening as shameful.”

Kane didn’t elaborate on those powerful forces but did call the emails, cartoons and videos that were shared by dozens of current and former AG staffers graphic, deplorable, and possibly criminal.

“Sometimes violent emails that had a string of videos and pictures depicting sometimes children,” Kane told Ganim with anguish on her face.

That quote left the impression with many in the media that Kane was saying child pornography had been passed around. Kane’s office confirmed for abc27 on Wednesday that was not the case. The photos with kids may have been inappropriate and in poor taste but did not cross over into child pornography. If they were, AG spokeswoman Renee George Martin said, it would have been illegal and the participants would have been arrested. “You would have seen a parade of perp walks by now,” Martin said.

Kane’s critics say her CNN allegations are nothing more than a smokescreen to deflect attention away from the fact that she’s under investigation for possibly leaking secret grand jury testimony earlier this year from a 2009 case. Kane was called in front of a grand jury this week in Montgomery County and could ultimately be charged. Her new spokesman, Lanny Davis, says she shouldn’t be because she had no involvement with a grand jury in 2009.

“She was a stay-at-home mom in 2009,” Davis said. “So she’s being investigated for disclosing grand jury information when she wasn’t sworn in to that grand jury.”

But doesn’t an attorney general have a duty to protect secret information that was obtained before he/she took office?

“That’s not what the law says,” Davis replied. “You have to be sworn in. She wasn’t sworn in, period.”

Kane hired a high-powered team to guide her through these turbulent times. New York attorney Gerald Shargel, who once represented mobster John Gotti and spokesman Lanny Davis, who once handled PR for President Bill Clinton are representing Kane. She’s personally picking up the tab but many in Harrisburg wonder why the need?

Davis said everybody’s entitled to defense and warns against guilt by association.

“The average person knows that the system is tough enough to beat without innuendo or presumption of guilt that somebody hires so and so,” Davis said.

It’s a puzzling story. There’s still much we don’t know and Kane says there’s much she wants to tell us, but cannot.

“This will be frustrating for you because it’s just as frustrating for me,” Kane told CNN. “My hands are tied because there are court orders that don’t allow us to say certain things that I believe the public needs to know.”

There are others who worry that the so-called porngate scandal is distracting Kane from doing the job she was elected to do. They point to the sting case of Philadelphia officials who were reportedly caught on tape taking bribes. Kane rejected the case calling it tainted and said she couldn’t prosecute. The Philadelphia DA took it over and recently got a conviction of a judge who illegally took jewelry from a lobbyist.

Davis says he’s confident Kane will not be charged by the grand jury but concedes the current cloud over the office is a distraction. “We trust the good sense of the grand jury and the special prosecutor. We trust she’ll (Kane) get a fair shake and they will not take any action against her, but until that it’s awfully difficult for her to do her job.”

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