Kane vows to fight for her office

20141213-Katherine-Kane
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane vowed Friday to fight for her seat and her reputation.

NEW YORK - Acknowledging the bruises and distractions caused by an investigation into media leaks by her office, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane vowed Friday to fight for her seat and her reputation.

In one of her first interviews since being questioned in the probe, Kane signaled she might challenge the authority and validity of the special prosecutor appointed to investigate the alleged improper release of grand jury material.

"I'm making sure that the process is legal," she said, "and cannot be abused by anyone for any reasons."

A Democrat midway through her first term, Kane also predicted she would not only overcome the court battle, but would also win another term in 2016.

"I stand steadfast in that I did nothing wrong," she said, later adding: "I'll make it through my tenure, and I'm confident in my reelection."

She spoke during an interview at the Waldorf-Astoria, where elected state officials, lobbyists, and political strategists were gathering for their annual Pennsylvania Society weekend of wining, dining, and deal-making.

During the same weekend a year ago, Kane was a star attraction - considered at the top of the game and a rising prospect for governor or Senate.

But a series of missteps and misstatements this year have dimmed that star.

Most serious is the pending investigation into whether her office improperly released grand jury documents - a crime that can carry a prison term - to embarrass political enemies.

Last month, the attorney general was called to a courtroom in Norristown and questioned for more than two hours.

The Inquirer has reported that the special prosecutor, Thomas Carluccio, is examining whether Kane's office leaked grand jury information to the Philadelphia Daily News about a 2009 investigation, handled by her Republican predecessors, into the finances of former NAACP head J. Whyatt Mondesire.

The Daily News, citing sources, reported that Kane's office was trying to determine why the 2009 investigation did not result in any charges.

The Mondesire inquiry was headed by Frank G. Fina, a former top prosecutor in the Attorney General's Office who now works for Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. He and Kane have been locked in a public and bitter battle over how past cases were handled by the office.

The Montgomery County grand jury is set to expire at the end of year.

Carluccio's appointment was authorized by Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille, whose tenure also ends this year. Questions have been raised in some legal circles about whether the court had the authority to appoint a special prosecutor and about the extent of his powers.

In the interview at the Waldorf, Kane appeared calm. She was interrupted more than once by well-wishers who stopped by to express support.

This week, she took other steps indicating her intent to fight on. She announced a reorganization atop the office, adding a chief of staff, and plans to hire a new communications director.

"Everybody hits bumps in the road," Kane said, "but we are making our team stronger so we can protect Pennsylvania."

 


acouloumbis@phillynews.com

717-787-5934 @AngelasInk