AG Employees Disciplined Over Email Porn

Nov 13, 2014

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has taken steps to remove several of her employees.
Credit Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General Kathleen Kane said Wednesday four of her employees have been fired and 11 suspended without pay for involvement in a pornographic email scandal that also prompted a state Supreme Court justice to step down.

Kane said two other union employees face possible termination after "the exhaustion of their contractually mandated rights." Two others quit before being disciplined, and several others described as having limited involvement received written reprimands or counseling.

"This behavior violated computer and email policies and on an even more troubling level showed a fundamental disregard and disrespect for people who work in the (agency) and for Pennsylvanians," Kane said in a written release.

A Kane spokeswoman identified the four employees who were terminated and said none of them was a senior manager. She said some of the email exchanges took place earlier this year.

The hundreds of emails that Kane has released included pornographic or explicit photos, videos and jokes.

Kane's office plans training, starting in December, for all employees and will set up a way for staff to report such behavior without facing retaliation.

"I was disappointed to learn that some individuals chose to continue sharing pornography on taxpayer time," Kane said.

Kane previously had said the emails surfaced during an examination of how state prosecutors handled the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case, a review she promised while running for the office in 2012.

She also had disclosed the participation of several former employees of the office, leading at least four to leave government jobs elsewhere, including the state's environmental protection secretary, a lawyer in that agency, a member of the state parole board and a county prosecutor.

Last month, Justice Seamus McCaffery retired after his fellow justices suspended him amid the disclosure he had he sent or received 234 of the emails. McCaffery sent most of the emails to a now-retired agent in the attorney general's office, who then forwarded the emails to others in the office, Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille has said.

The Judicial Conduct Board is investigating another justice, Michael Eakin, after the Philadelphia Daily News reported last month that he had received two emails with pictures of topless or nude women plus a racist email in 2010. The emails went to a private email account he held under the name "John Smith."

Eakin said he did not dispute that he had received the emails, but he said he had not seen the material and reported the matter to the Judicial Conduct Board.

Kane, a former Lackawanna County prosecutor, is the first Democrat and first woman elected attorney general in Pennsylvania. She took over from Linda Kelly, one of two Republicans to serve on an interim basis after Republican Tom Corbett stepped down to become governor in 2011. Corbett has said he was not aware of the emails while heading the state prosecutor's office.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.