Pa. AG Kathleen Kane says she is not seeking re-election

Tuesday, February 16, 2016
VIDEO: Kathleen Kane announces she is not seeking re-election
Attorney General Kathleen Kane says she is not seeking re-election.

SCRANTON, Pa. -- Pennsylvania's embattled attorney general said Tuesday she will not seek a second term, facing pressure from within her own party after being hobbled for months by criminal perjury charges and the suspension of her law license.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced the decision in her hometown of Scranton just hours before a deadline to submit signatures to make the primary ballot.

Kane, who narrowly survived a Senate vote last week to remove her from the office she has held since 2013, did not mention the charges. Rather, she said must be a "mother first" to her two teenage sons.

"While this was not an easy decision for me, while I love Pennsylvania, I love my sons first," Kane, the first woman and first Democrat elected to the office, told reporters. "I am a mother first and foremost. Because at the end of my life, I hope that history judges me well, but that's for time to tell. I hope more that God and my sons judge me well."

Kane did not take questions from reporters.

She touted her office's record of fighting corruption and drug crime, arresting child predators and protecting landowners in their dealings with natural gas companies. She also asserted she had a big lead in polls over her would-be rivals for the Democratic nomination.

However, Kane has seen a tumultuous two years. She was charged by prosecutors in suburban Philadelphia in August with perjury and other offenses for allegedly leaking secret grand jury material to a reporter and lying about it under oath. Her trial is scheduled for this summer.

She has denied the allegations, saying she has been targeted by an old boys club that was threatened by her work to expose the exchange of obscene and objectionable emails by employees of her agency, judges and others.

The state Supreme Court suspended her law license as of October and recently rejected her request to reinstate it.

Her office also fumbled public corruption cases and her critics say she used the government email scandal as a weapon against her perceived enemies. Meanwhile, the state House of Representatives voted last week to empower a committee to look into her impeachment, a process expected to play out in the coming months.

Gov. Tom Wolf called for her to resign, and at least two other Democrats filed paperwork to seek her office.

Kane vowed in her final 11 months in office to keep fighting what she called a culture of corruption in Pennsylvania politics.

"I told you I would fight corruption and I'm fighting corruption, regardless of the personal cost to me," she said.

The email scandal has resulted in dozens of people in government being disciplined or fired, the abrupt retirement in 2014 of one Supreme Court justice, Seamus McCaffery, and pending ethics charges against another, Michael Eakin. The emails disclosed so far include nudity, sex acts and content that is derogatory toward women, gays and ethnic and religious groups.

Kane is paying a team led by Doug Gansler, a former Maryland state attorney general, to review millions of messages and make a public report about what they contain.