UPDATE: On January 27th, the Special Committee on Senate Address recommended that the full Senate vote on whether or not to remove Attorney General Kane from office pending the outcome of her appeal on the suspension of her law license. In other Kane related news, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a resolution to investigate AG’s Kane’s conduct to determine if impeachment proceedings should begin.
Under the Pennsylvania Constitution, the Governor can request the removal of certain "civil officials" outside of the impeachment process. After the suspension of Kane’s law license, and refusal to resign, a Special Committee on Senate Address was convened to determine if Kane should remain in office without her law license. On Tuesday, the Special Committee on Senate Address held its final hearing on Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
The hearing was eye-opening, to say the least. Although Attorney General Kane did not testify, her Chief of Staff, Jonathan Duecker, addressed the Committee in her stead. Duecker was frequently backed into a corner, mainly because his positions defied logic and were self-contradictory. When his statements didn’t put him into a corner, they were hedged and revealed how little Duecker knew about the operations of the Attorney General’s office. For example, Duecker had no idea what Kane’s day to day schedule was and couldn’t say for sure when she had last worked in Harrisburg. He also didn’t know if Kane had provided written instructions to the Attorney General’s legal staff about changes to procedure after she had her law license suspended. Duecker also was unable to answer fundamental questions about the contracting process Kane went through when she appointed a "Special Prosecutor" related to her investigation into pornographic emails. His unfamiliarity with the details of this contract comes as a surprise considering its high profile and the controversy it caused among the legal staff in the AG’s office.
If you have two and a half hours and want to watch the testimony, it can be found here. However if you wish to maintain any confidence in the operational capacity of the Attorney General’s office, you should probably skip it.
Rounding out the hearing was testimony from Ed Rendell. He didn’t exactly speak in defense of Kane. Rather, he talked about his time as the Philadelphia District Attorney and how a large part of his work did not require him to have a law license. Although Rendell seemed to enjoy his walk down memory lane, his testimony was only marginally relevant because District Attorneys are not subject to the Commonwealth Attorneys Act. The Act defines the role of the AG as an elected position and what legal responsibilities it has in the Commonwealth. Despite Rendell’s commentary, his experience as a District Attorney is hardly relevant to Kane’s ability to function with a suspended law license. He also urged the General Assembly to go through the impeachment process, instead of the Senate utilizing the Special Committee on Senate Address to resolve the issue of Kane’s suitability for office.
The Senate Committee will issue its final report by the end of January and make its recommendation to the full Senate.