In Phila., Kane to announce special prosecutors to investigate porn

Pennsylvania Porn Scandal
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane will announce her choice of special prosecutors to conduct a broader investigation into pornographic emails exchanged on government computers.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane will use the backdrop of the National Constitution Center on Tuesday to announce her choice of special prosecutors to conduct a broader investigation into pornographic emails exchanged on government computers.

Kane is expected to announce a team of lawyers to review the email scandal known as Porngate, and detail the scope of the inquiry, as well as what powers the special prosecutors will have in pursuing any violations of "criminal, civil, or ethics laws."

Kane spokesman Chuck Ardo on Monday said the office did not know whom Kane had chosen, but said the team would be paid by the Attorney General's Office.

Two people familiar with Kane's search said she has been in serious discussions with Douglas F. Gansler, the former Democratic attorney general of Maryland, who now is a partner in a Washington, law firm, to take a leading position on the team.

When reached Monday, Gansler would not comment on whether he had been chosen for the job. The onetime president of the National Association of Attorneys General added, "There will be an announcement on it tomorrow."

Gansler was an unsuccessful candidate for Maryland governor last year, a race during which he faced questions after he failed to put a stop to apparent underage drinking at a beach party his teenage son was attending. He also was criticized for ordering his security detail to drive in an unsafe manner, as well as for controversial remarks he made about a political rival.

Kane could face immediate pushback on her decision to name special prosecutors. Her law license was suspended in September, shortly after she was criminally charged with leaking confidential information to a newspaper in a bid to embarrass a political enemy.

Without an active law license, she is barred from making legal decisions, and critics have raised questions about her authority to appoint special prosecutors who will be looking for possible criminal violations.

Last week, Ardo said that Kane viewed the appointment of a special prosecutor as a policy decision, and that even with a suspended law license, she believes she still has full authority over hiring and firing.

Kane's choice of venue for Tuesday's announcement was striking. The Constitution Center was where she declared, at the height of her political popularity during her first year in office, that she would not defend the state's ban on gay marriage.

Kane denounced the X-rated emails since she discovered last year that her office had been a hub for swapping porn, and that the messages were traded among judges, prosecutors, and other law enforcement officials.

Yet while vowing repeatedly to expose all of the offensive messages, she has released only a sampling, leading to criticism that she is using them as a weapon to target critics or others she believes have wronged her.

Kane has maintained that the criminal charges she faces were "corruptly manufactured" by angry Republican men who were trying to prevent her from exposing the email scandal.

She has pleaded not guilty and has vowed to remain in office while fighting the charges.

acouloumbis@phillynews.com

717-787-5934@AngelasInk