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Kane, Without Law License, Says Panel Lacks Legal Authority

Matt Rourke

Things were off to a rocky start between state Attorney General Kathleen Kane and the unusual Senate committee formed to consider whether she can do her job. Kane disputed the panel’s legal authority in a lengthy letter Friday.

The special committee was assembled as a prelude to the potential removal of Kane using an obscure section of the state constitution. Specifically, the six-person panel is grappling with the question of whether Kane can run the office of attorney general now that her law license has been suspended.

In a six-page letter, Kane expands on more succinct analysis: “This committee has no authority,” she writes. Kane claims that the constitutional removal process does not apply to elected state attorneys general. “The proper means of removal ... is by means of impeachment,” the letter reads.

“That may be her wish. I don’t think she grounds that in any constitutional or case law whatsoever,” said Drew Crompton, top aide to Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati. “It seems as if she makes the argument that it should be that way, and therefore it is that way.”

Crompton stressed that he is not offering the legal opinion of the Senate’s special committee. Members of the panel reached Friday for comment said they are still reviewing Kane’s letter.

Crompton said the panel is in the process of serving Kane with a subpoena for documents showing how her law license suspension affects her official capacity.

Chuck Ardo, office spokesman for Kane, said she won’t answer the senators’ subpoena.

“She doesn’t recognize their authority to ask any questions,” Ardo said, “and believes that giving them answers would merely empower them in their belief that they do have the authority.”

Kane’s law license was shelved indefinitely last month in light of the criminal case filed against her. She is contesting charges of perjury and other alleged crimes.