Governor's attorney general pick is Kane's ex-chief deputy

AP News
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Posted: Aug 18, 2016 5:35 PM
Governor's attorney general pick is Kane's ex-chief deputy

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday nominated Kathleen Kane's former top deputy to step in as attorney general for the remaining months of her term on the heels of her conviction and resignation from the state's top law enforcement job.

Bruce Beemer would take over the beleaguered 800-employee attorney general's office after two years of infighting, firings and scandal under Kane. While Beemer was promoted into the top lieutenant's job under Kane, he later clashed publicly with her and provided testimony that helped prosecutors convict her.

Senate confirmation of Beemer was expected but still at least a couple of weeks away. A permanent successor to Kane will be chosen by voters in November and sworn in Jan. 17.

Wednesday was Kane's last day in office, leaving it to be run by recent Kane hire Bruce L. Castor Jr., who had emerged as a central figure in the Bill Cosby sex assault case and who lacked support from Wolf or top state lawmakers. Castor also became a target of criticism that he was an extension of Kane, a characterization he has rejected.

Kane was convicted Monday of abusing the powers of her office by leaking secret grand jury information to smear a rival and lying under oath to cover it up. She faces prison time when she is sentenced Oct. 24.

Wolf called Beemer the "right fit" for the office and said Beemer has the respect of the agency's employees.

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, said he expected Beemer would be confirmed swiftly, potentially by the end of August.

"We're going to try to do it as quickly as possible to try to restore some stability over there," Corman said.

Beemer left his post as Kane's top deputy last month to become Wolf's inspector general, an office that investigates complaints about fraud, waste and misconduct in state agencies.

Beemer, a former Allegheny County prosecutor, joined the attorney general's office in 2011 as chief of staff under a Kane predecessor and was promoted after Kane took office in 2013 to first deputy attorney general.

Beemer, 47, took on some of the office's major legal decisions and openly clashed with Kane over the agency's operations after the state Supreme Court suspended her law license last fall.

He also gave unflattering testimony about Kane at her trial last week, including the contention that Kane told him it was "no big deal" when a 2014 article in the Philadelphia Daily News contained information he deemed to be protected by investigation secrecy laws.

For her part, Kane blamed the investigation into her on her exposure of a government email scandal involving sexually explicit images and derogatory jokes that cost the jobs of several high-ranking government officials, including two state Supreme Court justices.

In the meantime, the office remains seeded with controversial hires or promotions under Kane.

They include her twin sister, her cousin, a chief of staff who was the target of sexual harassment complaints and a supervisory special agent who is appealing a contempt of court conviction for snooping on the investigation into Kane.

It also is awaiting a report from a law firm on its review of millions of internal emails, a contract signed by Kane after she failed to make good on a promise to release all the pornographic or offensive emails from the agency's servers.