PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A team of Washington-based lawyers will comb through thousands of emails on government computers in an independent review of pornographic and other objectionable content shared among judges, prosecutors and others, embattled Attorney General Kathleen Kane said Tuesday.
Kane announced the team will be led by Doug Gansler, a fellow Democrat who has been Maryland's attorney general and was an unsuccessful candidate for that state's gubernatorial nomination last year.
She said the emails' content showed a lack of tolerance or respect for others, as well as state and federal constitutional violations.
"The discovery of these emails gives us, the people, a unique opportunity to see the problem, hidden away for many years, address the problem and progress as a commonwealth," Kane said during a news conference at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. "But progress means changes. These are people who are resisting changes."
Gansler said his team, with subpoena and grand jury powers, may prosecute if they find evidence that crimes occurred. The scope of his contract includes a review of the raunchy emails as well as any that relate to grand jury leaks. He expected the investigation to conclude "relatively quickly" and pledged to release most, if not all, the emails in question.
Kane discovered email exchanges that she describes as "racist, misogynistic, homophobic and religiously offensive" last year, when another outside lawyer reviewed how the office had handled the child sexual abuse investigation into former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
She has disclosed thousands of them to reporters and the wider public and disciplined dozens of people inside the agency she has run for the past three years.
The scandal was among the reasons fellow state Supreme Court justices suspended Justice Seamus McCaffery last year, shortly before his abrupt retirement. And the state's Court of Judicial Discipline is currently investigating the involvement of Justice Michael Eakin, a current member of the court.
Kane is running her agency without a valid law license, as the high court suspended it on a temporary, indefinite basis last month while she awaits trial on charges she leaked secret grand jury material to a newspaper and lied about it.
The state Senate is considering whether to initiate a process to remove Kane from office after its own committee voted 5-2 last week to endorse such a process.
Gansler's two terms as Maryland's attorney general ended in January. He said he would not be consulting with Kane during the investigation but would have a contact within the office to help him obtain necessary material.
Kane dismissed questions about her authority to hire Gansler as a special deputy attorney general as "nonsense."
Gansler will be paid a daily rate commensurate with Kane's $158,000-a-year salary, while others in his law firm will work at a discounted rate he did not specify. He said the total cost will likely be less than $2 million.
Gansler's team will be paid out of funds from Kane's office, her spokesman said.
"There is money in the coffers to pay for personnel," spokesman Chuck Ardo said.
Two years ago during his gubernatorial campaign there was a flap after a photo surfaced of Gansler and his son at a party where there appeared to be underage drinking.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.