Kathleen Kane, once a rising star in Pennsylvania politics, said Tuesday that she will resign as the state’s attorney general after she was found guilty of nine criminal charges, including two felony perjury counts.
“I have been honored to serve the people of Pennsylvania and I wish them health and safety in all their days,” the first-term Democrat said in a statement the afternoon after her conviction.
Kane, who was elected in 2012, was accused of leaking information to the media about a 2009 grand jury probe as a way to get back at Frank Fina, a political rival and former state prosecutor.
Prosecutors said Kane masterminded the leak and a subsequent coverup — and then lied to a grand jury about it.
After hearing days of dramatic testimony, a 12-person jury in Pennsylvania’s Montgomery County agreed with prosecutors, finding Kane guilty Monday of two counts of felony perjury, as well as obstruction, false swearing and other misdemeanor charges.
Kane, 50, faces up to seven years in prison on each of the felony perjury charges. Under state law, she was required to resign by the day of her sentencing.
“It seemed we had somebody who felt she was above the law,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele told reporters outside the courtroom after the verdict was delivered. “This was about the defendant going before a grand jury in Montgomery County and lying to that grand jury. The evidence was overwhelming in that regard.”
Calls for Kane to resign had mounted soon after the verdict was delivered late Monday.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) called it a “sad day” for the state and said “there should be no question” Kane should resign immediately, according to PennLive.com.
Assistant District Attorney Michelle Henry joined the chorus of those denouncing Kane’s actions.
“What she did while she was the attorney general, the fact she would commit criminal acts while the top prosecutor, is a disgrace,” Henry said after the verdict.
On Tuesday, after Kane’s announcement, Wolf, the governor, said “her decision to resign is the right one, and will allow the people of Pennsylvania to finally move on from this situation.”
Kane showed little emotion as the verdict was read, according to the Associated Press.
“The conviction on all counts was a crushing blow — I’m not going to say otherwise,” said Gerald Shargel, an attorney for Kane.
The defense intentionally did not have Kane testify. Nor did her legal team call witnesses over the six days of the trial.
“It’s a strategy,” Shargel said. “Obviously we thought that it would work, but I’ll be the first person to say we were wrong.”
Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy warned she would jail Kane if there was evidence of retaliation against witnesses who had testified against her, including two of Kane’s former aides.
Demchick-Alloy also took Kane’s passport, implying she was a flight risk, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The conviction seemed the final career fall for the state’s highest-ranking law enforcement officer.
Once a rising star, Kane was the first Democrat and first woman elected as the state’s top lawyer. (The job became an elected position in 1980.)
“It’s the role of the attorney general to be an independently elected voice,” Kane said in 2012, the day after winning the state attorney general’s race. “People see politics as a close-knit, good ol’ boy network, and I want to change that starting Day One.”
But the scandal mounted, and Kane lost her law license — and will now leave her job: The attorney general’s office said Kane’s resignation will be effective by the end of the day Wednesday.
Wolf, the governor, said in a statement Tuesday that he would “work with both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate regarding any potential appointment of an Attorney General.”
Pennsylvania voters will elect a new attorney general in November, to be sworn in Jan. 17, 2017.
As The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin reported in 2013, Kane beat establishment figures in both her own party and the GOP.
She defeated Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) in the party primary, despite his endorsements from union officials and many of the state’s elected Democrats. President Bill Clinton did a fundraiser for Kane, who she had worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid; Murphy responded by securing the endorsement of Obama adviser David Axelrod.
In 2013, during a training seminar for female candidates sponsored by the Democratic political action committee Emily’s List, which backs female candidates who support abortion rights, Kane noted that politics is a rough-and-tumble business.
In fact, she warned other political aspirants, when it comes to running for office, “it is a dirty business, there is no doubt.”