Pennsylvania officials have two routes to oust embattled attorney general

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 07, 2015 5:02 PM

By David DeKok

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - Pennsylvania officials have two options if they want to push Attorney General Kathleen Kane from office as she faces criminal obstruction charges, but do not seem to be rushing to act, observers said on Friday.

Politicians in both parties, from Governor Tom Wolf, who like Kane is a Democrat, to Republican state legislators, have called on Kane to step down after she was accused of leaking confidential information about a political rival to local media and then lying about her actions to a grand jury.

Kane, the first woman and first Democrat elected as the state's top prosecutor, has vowed to fight the charges, though she would have to step down if convicted.

Absent that, state legislators could move to impeach her or the state's top court could suspend her law license, which would make her ineligible for her job, political experts said.

The legislature does not seem to be rushing toward action, said Terry Madonna, professor of public affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.

"I don't see them moving immediately," said Madonna, who noted that the state of Pennsylvania has been without a budget since July 1.

House Majority Leader Dave Reed, a Republican, said on Friday that the Legislature would be watching closely as Kane's case moves through the courts "and weighing our options as a legislative body if there is no other action taken to remove her from office."

Kane is due to be arraigned on Saturday on charges including obstructing administration of law or other government function, official oppression, conspiracy and perjury.

One legislator who advocates Kane's impeachment is Representative Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican who chairs the State Government Committee.

He first demanded Kane's impeachment over a year ago after she refused to defend the state's marriage law against a lawsuit by gay marriage advocates. Last month, Metcalfe updated his resolution when a grand jury recommended charges.

If the resolution was approved by the full House, Kane would be tried by the Senate, where a two-thirds vote would be needed to remove her from office.

Another option would be if the state Supreme Court's disciplinary board issued an emergency suspension of her license, which it could do if it believed Kane had engaged in "egregious conduct," said Jim Koval, a court spokesman.

It would be up to Paul Killion, the disciplinary board's counsel, to initiate that proceeding. Killion could not be reached for comment.

(Editing by Scott Malone and Matthew Lewis)