Clinton-Connected State Attorney General Targeted by Grand Jury

Felony perjury recommended for Pennsylvania attorney general put in office by Clintons

Bill Clinton, Kathleen Kane
Bill Clinton with Kathleen Kane / AP
January 22, 2015

Kathleen Kane, whose rise from political unknown to Pennsylvania’s attorney general came on the back of the Clintons, is facing criminal charges after an eight-month statewide grand jury investigation.

Documents revealed on Wednesday show that a Pennsylvania grand jury recommended Kane be charged with perjury, false swearing, official oppression, and obstruction, according to a report by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The documents used in the investigation that led to the recommendation remain under seal.

The charges stem from Kane’s violation of grand jury secrecy rules by leaking confidential memos from a 2009 investigation to local media outlets in an attempt to embarrass political foes across the aisle, including Tom Corbett, formerly the state's Republican governor and her predecessor in the attorney general’s office.

Kane has advanced her career under the wing of Hillary Clinton, so she is no stranger to political retribution.

She left her position of 13 years as an assistant district attorney for Lackawanna County, Pa., in 2007 to join Clinton’s unsuccessful presidential campaign.

The decision worked in her favor.

Kane challenged former U.S. Congressman Patrick Murphy in the Democratic primary to become Pennsylvania’s attorney general, and Kane was a far less known underdog. Murphy had crossed the Clintons by endorsing Barack Obama in 2008 and found himself facing a candidate with the backing of former President Bill Clinton.

"When Kane, the wife of a wealthy Scranton businessman, ran for attorney general last year, she benefited from a Bill Clinton political score that needed to be settled," explained the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in 2013. "[Murphy] had done the unthinkable in 2008 and endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the state Democrat primary … Clinton repaid that favor by fundraising, endorsing, cutting ads, and bringing out the big guns for Kane over Murphy."

Pennsylvania’s attorney general primary became a battle between the Clintons and Obama, with top Obama political strategist David Axelrod stumping for Murphy in Pennsylvania.

The Clintons won, and Kane became the Clintons' "it girl" in Pennsylvania. She took tough stands on liberal hot button issues, such as refusing to defend Pennsylvania’s gay marriage ban in court, and thus became "Democrat gold."

She was believed to be eyeing a 2016 challenge to Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.).

The charges recommended by the grand jury against Kane could derail her political rise, but the Clintons are doing their part to make sure that is not the case. Kane’s legal defense is being led by Lanny Davis, who was a special counsel to the Clinton White House.

Davis’ defense of Kane is predicated on the argument that because Kane was not the attorney general in 2009, she is not bound by grand jury secrecy rules for investigations that took place at that time. Davis says Kane was a "mother at home" when the case was unfolding and "did not take a grand jury secrecy oath in the case."

Kane is maintaining her innocence as well, saying that she will not resign.

"No, I won't resign. I promised people of Pennsylvania that I would fight public corruption," she said. "That is exactly what this is. Court systems are being used to overturn an election of somebody they just don't like."

Davis and Kane also say the investigation lacked any legal authority because only the state attorney general is authorized by law to lead a statewide grand jury investigation.

The special prosecutor who was appointed to lead the investigation dismissed the legal authority argument as "self-serving" and "nonsensical," noting that Davis and Kane’s legal theory would mean that "only the attorney general could direct a grand jury to investigate the Attorney General's Office," according to the documents released Wednesday.

Kane’s legal case is not the only hit the Clinton political family has taken this week. A day after Kane’s case was made public, Sheldon Silver, speaker of the New York State Assembly and a longtime political ally of Hillary Clinton, was arrested by federal authorities on corruption charges.

A request for comment to the Clinton Foundation regarding Kane’s case went unanswered.