Kane saga bewildering

Pennsylvanians will remain focused on presidential politics this week as the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia takes center stage.

But the ongoing saga of state Attorney General Kathleen Kane is stealing some of the attention.

Not since former state Attorney General Ernie Preate pleaded guilty in 1995 to a federal charge of mail fraud has the Keystone State’s AG office been caught up in such a cloud of alleged wrongdoing and suspicion – and been the target of so much public disgust.

Three years ago, Kane was viewed as someone with a long political future. However, her term as the state’s chief law enforcement officer has been a disaster due to her questionable choices.

Whether she will complete her elected term is uncertain; she faces trial beginning Aug. 8 for allegedly leaking secret grand jury materials to a Philadelphia newspaper in an attempt to embarrass rivals, then lying about it later while under oath.

Currently, she’s serving in her AG position without a law license, which the state Supreme Court suspended indefinitely last fall.

Perhaps the state Senate will reconsider a vote to remove Kane that failed in February. The state House is investigating possible impeachment.

The past week piled on more black marks related to Kane’s embarrassing tenure.

On Tuesday came the news of a $17,000 pay raise and an additional $80,000 in back pay and other damages awarded to Kane’s twin sister, Ellen Granahan, who heads the AG office’s Child Predator Unit.

While Granahan was hired in the AG’s office by Tom Corbett, Kane promoted her twin to a top position, an action that reeks of nepotism.

Granahan filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission gender discrimination complaint in December alleging that her $89,000 salary was as much as 37 percent less than other employees with similar titles.

It wasn’t Kane who approved the Granahan settlement; it was Solicitor General Bruce L. Castor Jr. However, it was Kane who appointed Castor as first deputy attorney general, effective last Wednesday, putting him in the position to become acting attorney general if Kane is convicted, requiring her to resign.

Any suspicion of state residents over how all of that is intertwined seems reasonable, even if “justified” is too strong of a word.

It would have looked better if Castor had fought the settlement, on behalf of state taxpayers’ financial interests.

Then there was the blockbuster disclosure – that Kane’s staff had given an AG office job interview to the son of a key prosecution witness in her upcoming trial.

That has raised questions about the possibility of undue influence with Kane’s criminal case.

Kane has been grasping for every possible legal lifeline in an attempt to remain in office. However, residents are waiting eagerly for Kane’s departure so her office can regain the respect that it formerly enjoyed.

It’s unfortunate that Kane’s dogged, welcomed pursuit regarding the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese child sex abuse scandal has been clouded by all the negatives associated with her AG service.

She’s a disappointment, and the pages of state history won’t be kind.