Inquirer Editorial: Kane's story keeps changing

Kane MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff
Kane MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff
Posted: April 28, 2014

Who is this person?

That's the question being asked by many Pennsylvanians who wonder why Kathleen Kane's actions too often don't match their expectations in electing her attorney general in 2012.

Kane stuck another pin into her credibility last week when, having challenged Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams to take over a bribery investigation involving four city legislators, she pivoted and refused to give him the case files.

An e-mailed letter from Kane to Williams' office reportedly alleged that the district attorney has an apparent conflict of interest because at least two of the Democratic legislators accused of taking money from an informant endorsed Williams for election in 2009. That excuse seems flimsy when one considers the multitude of endorsements Kane received when she ran to become the first woman and the first Democrat to be elected attorney general. She took an oath not to let political ties keep her from doing her job. So did Williams. Yet she asserts that his endorsements would taint an investigation.

Kane also claimed that turning over the case files, which apparently include transcripts of conversations surreptitiously taped by informant Tyron B. Ali, might violate the Pennsylvania Wiretap Act. But why didn't the state's top law enforcement officer think of that before offering Williams the files?

Sadly, Kane's promising one thing and delivering another has become familiar. Her probe of alleged misspending, careless management, and excessive compensation of board members of the Hershey Trust and its school for the poor yielded a report calling for weak reforms that fell far short of expectations.

Her accusation that the Attorney General's Office under Tom Corbett unduly delayed the arrest of Penn State child molester Jerry Sandusky helped to sweep her into office. But she has yet to back up that claim. Instead, she has accused two of Corbett's former investigators, who now work for Williams, of botching the bribery sting.

In dropping the case without a sufficient explanation, Kane has provided a useful distraction that has helped the legislature avoid taking action against those who allegedly took gifts from Ali. Kane says what they did was a crime. If that's so, then someone should prosecute them.

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