Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Kane's twin trouble

Atty. Gen. Kathleen Kane is drawing more heat for promoting her twin sister. Is it really a problem or just more politics?

Kane's twin trouble

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

Atty. Gen. Kathleen Granahan Kane's twin sister Ellen Granahan -- a person I always saw as a political asset for, let's say, walking and waving in holiday parades to make it appear Kathleen was in two places at once -- might be turning out to be a political liability.

You'll recall Democrat Kathleen drew some fire after reports she promoted Ellen back in April to the post of chief deputy attorney general running the AG's child predator unit, a bump that included a 20 percent $13,600 a-year raise.

Eyebrows also were raised.

The response was Ellen was best-qualified for the gig, having served as an assistant DA in Lackawanna County's child abuse unit in the same county where Kathleen was also an assistant DA. Plus, Ellen already was working in the AG's office and had been since 2008 when it was run by Tom Corbett.

Well now the state's numero uno conservative lawmaker, Republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (he's pro-gun, anti-gay, anti-immigrant and perhaps best known in Philly for calling funds for mass transit "just more welfare") is calling for an official investigation of the sister act.

Metcalfe, chairman of the House State Government Committee, wants the State Ethics Commission (and, yes, we actually have one) to investigate whether Kathleen violated state law in promoting Ellen.

At a committee hearing this week Metcalfe said, "I think this type of behavior is outrageous...I think the public believes it's outrageous."

In response, Kathleen's spokesman Joe Peters says the state's child predator unit this year made triple the arrests made during all of last year, which is good but really doesn't address the promotion issue -- unless, of course, Ellen made the bulk of those arrests since April.

After the promotion came to light, the AG's office claimed the promotion was made by Kathleen's top deputy, Adrian King, and not Kathleen.

The implied insulation -- even if the twins don't have that telepathic twin connection -- stretches credulity.

Because the public is always willing to believe the worst about politicians (even those who claim they aren't politicians) and because Pennsylvania politicians give the public every reason to believe the worst, we shall now break into separate schools of thought: the sisters Kane are playing the system for personal gain; Metcalfe is playing partisan politics.

And no matter what the ethics commission says, those schools will remain in session.

Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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