State lawmakers swiftly replace Kane

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania lawmakers made a hasty return to the state Capitol from their summer recess on Tuesday as they rushed through a replacement for the state’s convicted ex-attorney general.

The unanimous confirmation vote on Bruce Beemer comes less than two weeks after Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf nominated him to head an office racked by infighting and scandal under Kathleen Kane.

Beemer was sworn in privately in Wolf’s offices, with Wolf in attendance. Under Senate rules, senators were required to wait until at least Sunday to vote on Beemer’s nomination. Senators reconvened and voted with little fanfare in an effort to close an ugly chapter for the state’s top law enforcement office.

Beemer told senators he hopes to restore a sense of honor and integrity to Pennsylvania’s top law enforcement office. Work must be done to restore the office’s credibility with the public and other law enforcement agencies, as well as improving morale, Beemer said.

“It’s going to be a challenge, but I look forward to do doing that each and every day,” Beemer told reporters. “It’s going to be sort of like putting building blocks one on top of each other. Every day we’re going to try to make things a little bit better.”

In a statement, Wolf said Beemer has the experience and skillset to begin healing the attorney general’s office, and he is trusted by its rank-and-file employees and understands “better than anyone what must be fixed to restore the public trust.”

One hot-button issue awaiting Beemer is a report commissioned by Kane on a trove of pornographic or offensive emails culled from the agency’s servers.

It is perhaps the final act in a scandal that has roiled Pennsylvania’s law enforcement and legal communities for two years and felled several top state officials, including two state Supreme Court justices. Kane had released some hundreds of emails her office discovered, but apparently not all.

Beemer would not say whether he would release the report publicly, saying he had not seen it and that people named in it must be afforded due process.