House Democrats walked out of a highly unusual hearing Tuesday morning on a measure seeking the impeachment of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
Democrats described the hearing, before the State Government Committee, as little more than a political stunt by the committee's Republican chairman to embarrass the Democratic attorney general. Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a conservative Republican from Butler County, had called for the hearing, saying he believed it was necessary because Kane had exhibited "misbehavior" in office.
Among the examples Metcalfe gives for the alleged misbehavior: Kane's decision not to defend the state's gay marriage ban and her controversial decision to shut down a sting investigation that had caught five Philadelphia Democrats, including four state lawmakers, on tape accepting money or gifts.
Democrats disagree - and they asked that this morning's hearing be canceled. When Metcalfe refused to do so, Rep. Mike O'Brien (D., Philadelphia) tried to raise an objection - but Metcalfe would have none of that. When O'Brien persisted in being heard, Metcalfe ordered House security officers to remove him from the hearing.
O'Brien stood to go, and the rest of the panel's Democrats walked out with him.
"Have your kangaroo court pal," O'Brien told Metcalfe on his way out the door.
For his part, Metcalfe called the walk-out "a dereliction of duty," and said that Democrats missed the chance to take in testimony about the attorney general's actions since she took office in January of last year.
"This attorney general has shown a pattern of abuse," Metcalfe told reporters after the hearing.
Kane has declined to comment on the matter.
This morning's hearing was a non-voting session. It is not clear whether Metcalfe's push to impeach Kane would ever get a committee vote, let alone a vote on the floor of the House. Republicans who hold the majority in the chamber privately say that is unlikely to happen.
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