Kane must live with her legacy

Pennsylvania stands to gain from the failure of former Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s bid for leniency and sympathy, but only if current and future state politicians and employees heed the message that they too are not above the law.

It would have been an injustice to the commonwealth and its residents if Kane, after having been convicted in August of  perjury and leaking confidential grand jury information, would have escaped prison time.

Not only did Kane commit the crimes for which she was found guilty, she also violated the public trust that she enjoyed by virtue of her election in 2012 as this state’s chief law enforcement officer.

Kane, 50, had been a rising star in state government who probably would have sought higher office eventually. Instead, she’s now forever doomed to her dubious place on the Keystone State’s much-too-lengthy “roster” of disgraced public officials, and prison time is the appropriate punishment for her crimes.

If her appeals are unsuccessful — and it’s difficult to imagine otherwise, based on the evidence that convicted her — she will serve a 10- to 23-month county prison sentence followed by eight years of probation.

Meanwhile, for the rest of her life she’ll have to live with the shame of having lost her career, law license and reputation because of her penchant for getting even with those whom she considered adversaries.

Her paranoia has been likened appropriately to that of former President Richard M. Nixon, whose presidency was cut short by the infamous Watergate Scandal.

But as her sentencing approached, Kane asked presiding Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy to sentence her to probation or house arrest so she could be home to raise her sons.

Kane and her husband, who are in the process of divorce proceedings, share custody of the teenage boys.

It’s right to observe that Kane should have considered the ramifications for her family that her criminal conduct might evoke, before she embarked on her mission to destroy someone else’s reputation — specifically, that of Frank Fina, who had helped run the Jerry Sandusky-Penn State probe and other sensitive investigations.

“There is no more torture in the world than to watch your children suffer and know you had something to do with it,” Kane told Demchick-Alloy.

That’s a message anyone contemplating wrongdoing needs to consider; no doubt others on Pennsylvania government’s “roster of disgrace” also have dealt with that belated sense of understanding.

The two candidates currently vying for Kane’s former office, during their second debate on Monday, outlined their plans for rooting out corruption and confronting unethical behavior in state government, while also trying to distance themselves from Kane.

“We’re four years behind, here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, because of what happened in the Office of Attorney General,” said Republican John Rafferty of Montgomery County, currently a state senator, who’s competing against Democratic Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro for Kane’s former job.

Kane’s tenure as AG wasn’t without accomplishments. She confronted state government’s pornographic email scandal and revealed the decades of child sexual abuse by priests of the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese.

But, unfortunately, her AG service will be remembered most for her criminal wrongdoings.

Even a tougher sentence would have been appropriate.

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