Baer: Rendell (sorta) sides with Kane

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

ADD ED RENDELL, wearing sneakers, to the battles of Kathleen "Kalamity" Kane.

The former guv, fellow Dem, and consummate political performer soft-walked to Kane's defense yesterday.

Ah, but only on the issue of whether the Senate should oust the attorney general because the Supreme Court suspended her law license.

Rendell testified under oath before a Senate committee that a constitutional provision that appears to provide for Kane's removal through Senate action isn't the way to go.

"The proper remedy," said Ed, "is impeachment."

Whoa. What?

But, wait, Ed's not advocating that. After all, his appearance was at Kane's request. And even though he said the Senate "probably" has the authority to proceed against Kane, he recommends that it doesn't.

Surely the Republican Senate values recommendations from Ed Rendell.

Still. Ed thinks that because Kane's seeking reinstatement of her license (from a newly installed Democratic Supreme Court; my emphasis) the Senate could toss her out of office for not having a license, only to see her get her license back.

What then, asks Ed?

If you're confused, you're forgiven. Kane's case has more twists than Chubby Checker.

She already faces a criminal trial for allegedly lying to one grand jury about leaking stuff from another grand jury, all related to a war with rivals, and pornographic, racist or otherwise inappropriate emails involving public officials using public resources on public time, including a couple of Supreme Court justices and Kane's twin sister.

And at yesterday's hearing, we heard about Mexican drug cartels, Kane's apparently flexible schedule - and sodomy.

Whew. You really need charts.

Kane proclaims innocence in all things and (no wonder) declined to appear before the committee. She says it has no authority to do what it's trying to do.

So she sent Rendell.

He wore sneakers not to show he has game - it's an ongoing foot thing related to a recent infection; you don't want to know the details.

He argued that running a large law enforcement office or agency is mostly about making decisions for which one doesn't need a law license.

He took the committee down memory lane, talking about his eight years as Philly D.A. (which ended 30 years ago), about his policies, and (three times) about how he stopped the prosecution of sodomy.

It was a crime back then, he explained: "Two adults doing what were called 'unnatural sex acts.' " But he decided as a matter of policy that enforcing the law "wasn't a good use of police time."

This was one example he used to make a case that many law enforcement decisions, administrative work, hiring, firing, outreach, etc., don't require legal action.

Then, in Rendell fashion, he ended by telling six present committee members, two Democrats and four Republicans: "I'd like to say I miss all of you, but I don't like to lie."

The only other witness yesterday was Kane's current chief of staff, Jonathan Duecker, who mostly said the same thing about "nonlegal" duties.

He offered a long list of Kane's activities not requiring a law license, including her travel to Arizona for meetings on threats to Pennsylvania by Mexican drug cartels.

I know, I know, El Chapo, Sean Penn, I thought of it, too.

But Duecker took heat from GOP Senate President Joe Scarnati, a committee member, for not knowing Kane's work schedule.

After establishing that Duecker has a "close [working] relationship" with Kane, Scarnati asked how often Kane had been to work in the last 10 days.

"I can't tell you that," Duecker said.

Scarnati later said that Kane might be "fighting drug cartels," but scowled at Duecker and added: "You can't even tell me when she's been to work last."

The committee is to report to the full Senate within 15 days. The Senate could vote on Kane's ouster any time after that. If two-thirds of senators vote against Kane, the state constitution says the governor "shall" remove her from office.

All I can say is, please stay tuned.

Email: baerj@phillynews.com

Blog: ph.ly/BaerGrowls

Columns: ph.ly/JohnBaer