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State AG: Culture of Corruption 'Won’t Ever Be Eliminated'

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane doesn’t believe it’s possible to rid the state of corruption, but her office is working to set an example to public officials through prosecution.  

In an interview today with 90.5 WESA's  Essential Pittsburgh program, Kane discussed the scandal in the Turnpike Commission.

After a 44-month grand jury investigation, eight individuals were charged in March with operating a scheme that linked bribes and contributions to getting contracts with the commission.

Among the eight charged are former Democratic state Sen. Bob Mellow, and former Turnpike Commission CEO Joe Brimmeier.

Kane, the first woman and Democrat to be elected Attorney General, said her office will be going after public servants who choose to take bribes.

“We are like a dog on a bone when it comes to public corruption," she said. "It steals taxpayer’s money, it destroys everyone’s trust in the government and that is wrong. We will make sure that everywhere it goes, every road it takes us to we will prosecute regardless of who the person is, how wide scale the crime is, or how small it is.”

Kane said she would like to see Pennsylvania pass a whistleblower statute in order to better protect those who want to report misdeeds in state government. She said those reports could save the state money and hasten investigations into corruption.

During the fall election campaign Kane was critical of how former Attorney General Tom Corbett handled the investigation of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. After taking office in January, Kane started an investigation of her predecessor's investigation.    

She said she has a lot of questions on how Corbett and other officials handled Sandusky’s case.

“Once we feel that we have uncovered every stone and every piece of  evidence, and every fact that we find, and once it is put together in a whole story, and not just fragmented into sound bites or just certain pieces of the story, once it is complete, then we will allow everyone to know what we have found,” Kane said.

She said she will not give the investigation a deadline and doesn’t want to rush the process.

Kane made headlines when she rebuffed Gov. Tom Corbett’s plans to privatize the state lottery when she rejected the state’s contract with Camelot Global Services as unconstitutional.

The Attorney General’s office is required to review all state contracts for “form and legality.”

“And that’s all it was, period," Kane said. "It was a constitutional review. It was a review of the laws of Pennsylvania. We did our job. So anybody who cries afoul that it was politics, I dismiss those criticisms.”

Kane said the contract will be resubmitted for review in May, and she will treat it as a fresh review.

She said her relationship with Corbett hasn’t been strained over the rejection, and his office has treated hers very professionally.

You can listen to the full interview tonight at 8 p.m. or on Essential Pittsburgh’s website.

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