Metcalfe to Introduce Resolution to Impeach Attorney General Kane 12/22/2014
HARRISBURG — State Representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) today circulated a memorandum asking colleagues in the state House to co-sponsor a resolution calling for the impeachment of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
The text of the memorandum is below:
A year ago, I introduced a resolution (House Resolution 572 of 2013-14) calling for the impeachment of Attorney General Kathleen Kane. I believed then, as I believe today, that she has displayed a blatant disregard and disrespect for the law. One of the primary differences between a year ago and today is that there are even more alarming incidents and allegations that call her ability to perform the duties of her office into question. That is why I intend to reintroduce this resolution, with updated findings and articles of impeachment.
My previous resolution, in the form of an amendment to House Resolution 578, was the subject of a State Government Committee public hearing on May 6, 2014. During the hearing, Michael Bekesha, an attorney with Judicial Watch in Washington, D.C., pointed to the Attorney General’s failure to perform duties given to her under the Commonwealth Attorneys Act. His comments rang true then, in regard to her refusal to defend Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and they ring true today, in regard to her refusal to defend Act 192 of 2014, my legislation to crack down on copper wiring theft and prevent illegal local government gun control ordinances.
Regarding the former, the Attorney General claimed that DOMA was wholly unconstitutional despite the absence of such a decision from a court of competent jurisdiction. Regarding the latter, Bruce Ledewitz, law professor and constitutional expert at Duquesne University, has been quoted in news reports as saying, "I bet you’d be hard pressed to find any precedent anywhere else of an attorney general refusing to take up defense of a statute on a purely procedural challenge." Her decision not to defend the law, he said, is "absurd."
Testimony offered by other hearing testifiers is also particularly timely, in light of recent developments in the case and charges filed by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams on December 16. Following the Attorney General’s March 2014 decision to drop the investigation of a number of public officials for alleged violations of provisions of the Election Code, the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act and the Bribery Statute, Williams took over the case, which the Attorney General had claimed was not prosecutable and tainted by racism.
During the public hearing, testifier J. Christian Adams, Policy Board member of the American Civil Rights Union, observed, "It is the obligation of the Attorney General to ignore the race, religion or partisan affiliation of wrongdoers in deciding whether to enforce the law." Because the Attorney General raised the specter of racial targeting in announcing her decision not to continue the investigation, she has not met this obligation. In contrast, the outcome of DA Williams’ efforts has, thus far, proven that such investigations can be successfully conducted without partisan or racial considerations. In recent comments on the investigation, Williams stated, "As an African American and as a law enforcement official, I was disgusted that the Attorney General would bring racism into this case."
While these high profile situations involving the Attorney General have received a great deal of press attention, she has made a number of other decisions that reveal a disturbing pattern of disregard for the office’s constitutional, statutory and ethical duties. During the May 2014 public hearing, committee members received expert testimony from Joshua Prince, Esq., Chief Counsel of the Firearms Industry Consulting Group, regarding the Attorney General’s unlawful decisions to modify existing firearms reciprocity agreements with Florida, Virginia and Arizona. "The Attorney General of Pennsylvania lacks the power and authority to modify, amend, rescind, revoke or otherwise change or invalidate any firearm reciprocity agreement, as the sole-power of the Attorney General bestowed….by the Legislature is the power and duty to enter into reciprocity agreements with other states." Prince went on to point out that the Attorney General’s actions in this regard "raise serious constitutional questions, as Pennsylvania provided no opportunity to be heard prior to these changes…"
Pursuant to a request that I made of the Ethics Commission to investigate the Attorney General’s compliance with the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act when a decision was made resulting in the promotion of her sister to Chief Deputy Attorney General in the Child Predator Section, the Ethics Commission conducted a preliminary inquiry into the matter. While the Commission found that there was insufficient evidence "to establish one of the required elements of a violation" of the conflict of interest prohibition in the Act, the Commission did find that the selection process to fill the vacancy in this important position created a perception that the promotion was not free of the Attorney General’s influence. In enacting the Ethics Act, the General Assembly declared, "In order to strengthen the faith and confidence of the people of this Commonwealth in their government, the Legislature…declares that the people have a right to be assured that the financial interests of holders of … public office do not conflict with the public trust." The perception created through the promotion of the Attorney General’s sister is contrary to the spirit of this law, as expressed by the General Assembly.
Over the course of the past year, as new revelations have come to light regarding the Attorney General’s misbehavior in office, more Pennsylvanians are questioning her ability to perform the duties of her office and some are calling for her to resign from her position. This week Congressman Bob Brady called her performance into question, suggesting that she has been "asleep at the switch." Despite the passage of time and the evolution of this issue, the core concerns regarding her performance in office remain the same. The Attorney General has failed to perform the duties of her office on a number of occasions and she has engaged in misbehavior in office.
Attorney General Kane is not above the rule of law and the very troubling pattern of abuse she has displayed during her tenure as the Commonwealth’s chief law enforcement officer makes impeachment the most appropriate tool to rectify her repeated abuse of power. Please consider cosponsoring my impeachment resolution, so that we can begin to restore the rule of law to this important statewide office.
Representative Daryl Metcalfe