Pennsylvania attorney general to publicly address charges

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane plans to publicly respond for the first time to the criminal charges lodged against her last week, a spokesman said Monday.

Kane is expected to make a statement and answer reporters' questions at a news conference at the state Capitol in Harrisburg on Wednesday, spokesman Chuck Ardo said.

Kane was arraigned Saturday on charges that include a felony count of perjury, but she let her legal team do most of the talking. She has maintained her innocence but did not enter a plea at the hearing.

"There was never a plan for her to comment on Saturday," Ardo said.

Ardo reiterated that Kane does not intend to resign, despite calls for her to step down by a growing number of Democrats and editorialists, including Gov. Tom Wolf.

Kane, 49, is charged with leaking secret grand jury information and lying about it under oath. Authorities say she gave confidential information to a reporter in an attempt at payback for a former state prosecutor who she thought had made her look bad.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 24.

Kane, a former Lackawanna County prosecutor, is the highest-ranking woman in the state government. In her 2012 campaign, which relied heavily on her husband's wealth, she became the first woman and first Democrat to be elected attorney general.

Critics calling for her resignation are considering at least two possible scenarios for ousting Kane.

One would be a temporary suspension of Kane's law license if a complaint is filed and the state Supreme Court concludes that Kane's alleged misconduct has been "egregious." The state constitution requires the attorney general to have a law license.

Paul Killion, chief disciplinary counsel for the high court's Disciplinary Board, declined Monday to say whether any complaint had been filed against Kane. He said he could not discuss any pending case.

"Everything is confidential until some action is taken of some kind," he said.

Even if the court orders a license suspension, Kane would be have 10 days to fight the order before it could take effect.

Killion said the provision has not been used to remove any statewide elected official in at least the 12 years he has worked for the board.

Another, more time-consuming possibility would be impeachment by the Legislature, in which the House would bring charges and the Senate acts as the jury.

A conservative western Pennsylvania lawmaker sponsored an unsuccessful resolution calling for Kane's impeachment in the last session, citing her refusal to defend the state's same-sex marriage ban against a federal court challenge in 2013. Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, has introduced a similar resolution this year.