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Corbett questions politics behind Kane's inquiry

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett addresses members of the media during a press conference following the regularly scheduled Penn State Board of Trustees meeting in State College, Pa., Friday, Jan. 20, 2012. Penn State President Rodney Erickson used the meeting as an opportunity to address the perception that the university isn't being as open and honest as it could be in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. (AP Photo/Andy Colwell)
November 9, 2012 5:20:36 PM PST
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett turned the political tables Friday on Pennsylvania's newly elected attorney general and questioned the sincerity of her pledge to look into how prosecutors handled the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse investigation and why it took so long.

Kathleen Kane, the first woman and first Democrat to be elected to the office, is coming off a campaign in which she beat up on Corbett and soundly beat her Republican opponent whom she had repeatedly called Corbett's "hand-picked" candidate. She touted herself as the only independent prosecutor in the contest and seized on the passion surrounding the former Penn State assistant coach's case to say she would investigate why it took 33 months to charge Sandusky after the attorney general's office began looking into the case.

Asked about it Friday, Corbett said he never played politics with the investigation, which began under him when he was attorney general. Political adversaries have repeatedly questioned whether Corbett dragged out the investigation to ensure it didn't become public while he was running for governor in 2010 and, in theory, anger Penn State fans or alumni into voting against him.

But he maintained that he never told anyone to slow down the investigation and then he took a shot at Kane.

"This is the first investigation I've ever heard of to look into a successful prosecution, and I think the people ought to look at that and say, 'Hmmm, is that investigation political in nature?'" Corbett told reporters during a public appearance on a separate subject.

Corbett's comments came a day after he called Kane to congratulate her and brief her on some of the cooperation between his office and the attorney general's office on legal matters. The subject of the investigation didn't come up, Corbett said.

A Kane spokesman responded with a brief comment.

"Kathleen Kane said during the campaign that, like a lot of Pennsylvanians, she doesn't understand why it took the attorney general's office 33 months to arrest Jerry Sandusky," spokesman Josh Morrow said. "When she takes office in January, she will fulfill her commitment to investigate this matter as promptly as possible."

Sandusky, a celebrated former assistant football coach under Joe Paterno at Penn State, was charged last November and convicted in June of 45 counts of abuse of boys, including violent sexual attacks inside campus facilities. He was sentenced last month to 30 to 60 years in prison. He has maintained his innocence.

Corbett said he wasn't worried about what Kane would find in an investigation.

"I did the job the best way I can," Corbett said. "Now, anybody can come in and sit down and Monday morning quarterback decisions, OK? But for a true investigation, there has to be some criminal act. I know I didn't commit any criminal act. None, zero. There's no communication from me to anybody to slow down an investigation. There's no communication from anybody to me that they were going to slow down for any political reason, and I wouldn't want them to."

Had his investigators had enough victims willing to testify in 2010, his office would have filed charges, he said.

"It probably would have helped my election and then I suspect ... many of the pundits would have said, 'Oh, he's being political. He should have waited,'" Corbett said. "So it's kind of, you know, darned if you do, darned if you don't. We didn't delay anything. Go back and look at my career. I've done nothing but go after child predators. I'm not going to let somebody like this go, but I'm not going to bring a case with one witness who would never have survived alone on the stand."


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