NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania's top prosecutor received sensitive emails from aides about news coverage of her office on personal accounts, preventing investigators from seeing many of her responses, according to a document obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane was charged this month with obstruction and conspiracy for allegedly leaking grand jury material to the Philadelphia Daily News and then lying about it.
An affidavit seeking a search warrant in April shows that Kane had received some emails from top aides on her private AOL and Yahoo accounts. They included proposed responses to questions from a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter who worked on an article critical of Kane, as well as links to the Daily News article the day it appeared in June 2014.
Kane, who has maintained her innocence, told a grand jury investigating the leak in November that she didn't read the article until August 2014.
"The attorney general receives a large volume of emails on a daily basis and has to prioritize the ones most immediately pressing," said Kane's spokesman, Chuck Ardo. "It is highly probable that she never got to go back and read the email in question."
The office does not have a policy preventing employees from conducting official business on personal computers and electronic devices, or from using their personal email accounts, Ardo said.
Investigators seeking the search warrant said Kane's use of personal email accounts and the limited scope of emails provided by the leak grand jury prevented them from seeing many of her responses.
Prosecutors say Kane leaked a confidential transcript and memorandum related to a 2009 grand jury investigation to smear two prosecutors who she believed had provided information for a March 2014 story in The Philadelphia Inquirer that revealed her decision not to pursue charges in a separate corruption case.
In one exchange included in the search warrant, Kane's then-spokeswoman attached a copy of the Daily News article and said, "need some help on this." It's unclear if Kane responded. The spokeswoman eventually instructed a colleague on how to respond to a reporter asking about the article: "No comment. That's it. No background, no explaining, no comment."
Investigators were seeking additional emails, electronic calendars for Kane and her top aides, and recordings and transcripts of interviews related to the investigation covered in the Daily News article.
A judge approved the warrants and the attorney general's office turned over several discs of additional material. None of it was included with the documents obtained Wednesday.
"I'm sure the attorney general has communications with all kinds of people through a variety of means," Ardo said.
Other search warrant documents remain under seal, prosecutors said.
Also Wednesday, court officials released more than a thousand pages of records in response to Kane's request, including scores of emails that contained sexually explicit images and insensitive jokes.
She contends the emails show that two former state prosecutors "corruptly manufactured" the criminal charges against her because she was threatening to reveal their use of office computers to send or receive pornography.