Attorney General Kathleen Kane Engaged in Cover-Up, Grand Jury Report Says
Attorney General Kathleen Kane engaged in a cover-up and lied about her role in an alleged unlawful leak of information from a 2009 investigation, according to a report by the grand jury that recommended she face criminal charges.
"The testimony of Attorney General Kane was not an honest account of the events, and she mischaracterized events to cover up activities undertaken at her direction to unlawfully release documents subject to grand jury secrecy," said the report released Monday, three months after its recommendations were made public.
Comparing Kane's statements to the grand jury to other testimony and evidence, the grand jurors "did not find her testimony truthful while intending to divert attention from her actual role as the principal of the leak," the report said.
Montgomery County Judge William Carpenter said he ordered the presentment unsealed because there was no longer a reason to keep it confidential, and a request had been made to make it public.
Kane's own lawyers had asked that the report be unsealed. But spokesman Chuck Ardo said she would have preferred that the full transcripts of grand jury testimony had been included.
"The attorney general believes her testimony was truthful and responsive, and given this court's track record, their conclusion doesn't come as a surprise," Ardo said.
The grand jury recommended she be charged with perjury, obstruction, false swearing, official oppression and contempt of court. Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman has said her office is looking into the case.
On Monday, Carpenter and two other judges asked that Ferman review whether Kane should be charged with retaliation and official oppression for firing a staff prosecutor who told the grand jury that a 2014 Philadelphia Daily News story contained investigative information that should have been kept secret. Kane contends the prosecutor's firing wasn't retaliatory, but rather part of a staff reorganization.
Kane was the subject of the grand jury investigation that examined her role in connection with the Daily News story. The story focused on a 2009 investigation, also involving a grand jury, that dealt with the handling of state job-training grants by the then-president of the Philadelphia NAACP.
The attorney general believes that the information she authorized for release to the newspaper, through a political operative, was not covered by any grand jury secrecy, her spokesman said.
"All I can tell you is that she believes that what she authorized, the material that she authorized to be released, was not covered by any grand jury secrecy," Ardo said. "I mean, after all, the grand jury had been dissolved for five years."
In the document made public Monday, the grand jury described how several members of Kane's top staff at the attorney general's office testified that the material from the 2009 investigation was subject to secrecy laws.
Adrian King, her top aide at the time, testified that Kane seemed obsessed with the 2009 investigation because she had been criticized for not pursing charges in a separate probe into state lawmakers and a judge taking cash or gifts from a confidential informant.
When Kane's private lawyer sought the NAACP documents, King wrote an email to say that was prohibited, the grand jury said.
When Kane asked him to deliver an envelope to the political operative, Josh Morrow, he assumed it held campaign-related material, King said.
Morrow and the reporter, Chris Brennan, both testified that the envelope contained a memorandum about the 2009 investigation and a recent transcript of an interview with an investigator about the case, as well as partly redacted emails.
The names of every prosecutor and investigator mentioned in the documents were redacted — except for Frank Fina and Marc Costanzo, who had publicly criticized Kane's reasons for why she did not pursue charges in the cash-and-gifts investigation. By that time, Fina and Costanzo had left the office and were working for the Philadelphia district attorney's office.
Another high-ranking official in Kane's office, Bruce Beemer, told grand jurors that Kane stopped him when he expressed a desire to investigate what he viewed as a leak of secret information.
"Her response to me was don't worry about it," Beemer testified. "It's not a big deal. We have more important things to do."
Associated Press writer Maryclaire Dale in Norristown contributed to this report.
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