The state Supreme Court took emergency action today to temporarily suspend the law license of embattled Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane.
“She can still function as the head of the office and make decisions as to priorities and administrative decisions about budget and personnel”, said Ardo.
In this court order, however, the court went out of its way to state, “This order should not be construed as removing respondent from elected office and is limited to the temporary suspension of her license to practice law”.
There are three Republicans and two Democrats on the high court, as well as two vacancies.
Kane, 49, is awaiting trial in Montgomery County on charges she illegally leaked confidential documents to a Philadelphia Daily News reporter in a bid to embarrass a critic, then lied about it under oath.
Ms. Kane has pleaded not guilty and vowed to remain in office, despite calls from top Democrats, including Gov. Tom Wolf, for her resignation. “The Office of Attorney General, the employees who work there and the jobs they do are far too important to have them compromised by the distractions that have resulted from the ongoing investigation into Attorney General Kane”.
Kane issued the following statement this afternoon: “While I am disappointed in the court’s action I am grateful that the court recognized my constitutional rights both as a democratically elected official and as a citizen of the Commonwealth”.
The court’s disciplinary lawyers have argued that Kane admitted that she authorized the release of secret investigative information. That allegation is also central to the criminal case against her.
In a statement, her private lawyers predicted that she would be exonerated once her side of the story is told.
Her license is suspended; she isn’t disbarred.
The first deputy attorney general, Bruce Beemer, a career prosecutor from Pittsburgh who joined the office in 2011, will likely assume duties she can no longer perform, an office spokesman said.