Kathleen Granahan Kane (born Kathleen Margaret Granahan; June 14, 1966) is an American lawyer and politician who is the Attorney General of Pennsylvania. She is the first woman and the first Democrat ever elected to the position (though both women and Democrats had held the office before it became elective in 1980).
In August 2015, Kane was arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including perjury and obstruction of justice. In September 2015, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania suspended Kane’s license to practice law, the first such occurrence for a Pennsylvania attorney general.
Early life and education
Born Kathleen Margaret Granahan, Kane grew up on the west side of Scranton, Pennsylvania where she attended West Scranton High School. Kane received a Bachelor of Science degree in international studies from the University of Scranton in 1988 and law degree from Temple University Law School in 1993.
Kane was an attorney at Post & Schell P.C., a Philadelphia law firm, from 1991 to 1995 and handled civil cases. From 1995 to 2007, she served as an assistant district attorney for Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, where she prosecuted hundreds of sex-abuse, elder abuse, murder, assault, rape, public corruption, and fraud cases. In 2007, Kane worked for a private law firm in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and took a position with the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
Pennsylvania Attorney General
Kane announced her candidacy for Pennsylvania Attorney General in the 2012 election. She received endorsements from U.S. President Bill Clinton and the Philadelphia Inquirer during the Democratic primary. Her primary opponent, former U.S. Representative Patrick Murphy, was endorsed by former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Kane defeated Murphy 53% to 47%. In the general election, Kane won by 14.5 percent over Cumberland County district attorney David Freed who ran unopposed in the Republican primary. The win made Kane the first woman elected State Attorney General in Pennsylvania, and the first Democrat elected to the position since it ceased being an appointed office in 1980.
Since taking office, Kane has appointed former federal prosecutor H. Geoffrey Moulton Jr. to investigate Governor Tom Corbett’s handling of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal (an investigation which showed that no wrongdoing by Corbett took place), and brought criminal charges against former turnpike officials (and then dealt plea bargains with the accused parties, which resulted in none of the accused serving any jail time).
In July 2013, Kane made national headlines when she refused to defend Pennsylvania’s gay-marriage prohibition in court, calling it “wholly unconstitutional.”
On March 17, 2014, AG Kane announced that she had shut down a corruption investigation begun under her predecessor, saying that “the undercover investigation was poorly managed and badly executed, and relied on an undercover operative whose credibility had been compromised.” The investigation was following up on reports of corruption among current Philadelphia politicians, all of the suspects belonged to Kane’s Democratic Party. In response, the Committee of Seventy called on the state legislature to designate an independent counsel to investigate the closing of the case. Local prosecutors in Philadelphia picked up the case, and secured a number of guilty pleas as well as grand jury indictments related to the case.
A grand jury has been investigating the leaking of two memos which allegedly came from Kane’s office: one from a 2009 grand jury investigation, and an internal memo leaked to the Philadelphia Daily News in 2014 that outlined details of the 2009 investigation.
On January 21, 2015, it was made public that the grand jury recommended criminal charges related to these leaks against Kane for “perjury, false swearing, official oppression and obstruction of law.”.
The leaks came at a time when Kathleen Kane was under intense criticism for failure to effectively prosecute Democrats, both in a bribery sting investigation in Philadelphia, and a pay-to-play scandal involving the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
On August 6, 2015, Kane was charged by Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman with one count of perjury, one count of false swearing, three counts of obstructing administration of law, and four counts of official oppression in connection with the grand jury leaks. Kane denied the charges and announced that she will not resign. The same day the charges were announced, Governor Tom Wolf publicly called on Kane to resign.
On August 24, 2015 she was ordered to trial on charges she leaked secret grand jury information to the press, lied under oath about it and ordered aides to illegally snoop through computer files to keep tabs on an investigation into it. Prosecutors called two witnesses – a top Kane aide and the lead investigator in the case against her – whose testimony paralleled a 42-page probable cause affidavit filed against her earlier this month. Kane is accused of leaking a confidential grand jury memo and transcript to a Philadelphia Daily News reporter to embarrass rival prosecutors involved in the case. She then lied about her actions to a grand jury investigating the leak, prosecutors said. Kane, 49, could face up to seven years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge, perjury. No trial date has been scheduled. Her next court appearance is Oct. 14, 2015.
On September 21, 2015, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unanimously suspended Kane’s license to practice law. Although the Constitution of Pennsylvania requires the attorney general to be a licensed attorney, the court said in its order that it was not removing Kane from office. The suspension came as a result of criminal charges related to the grand jury leaks.
On October 1, 2015, prosecutors filed an additional perjury charge against Kane. This second charge relates to the alleged violation of a secrecy oath that Kane signed in January 2013, also relating to grand jury leaks.
In continuing as attorney general with a suspended legal license, Kane has delegate legal responsibilities to her top advisers. On November 1, 2015, Kane announced a team of special prosecutors to lead the ‘Porngate’ investigation at the National Constitution Center.
Kane was mentioned as a potential Democratic candidate for the 2016 U.S. Senate election against Republican incumbent Pat Toomey. However, Kane declined to run, instead announcing that she would seek a second term as Attorney General in 2016. Since Kane’s law license was suspended she may not be able to run for Attorney General since the law requires that position to be a sitting member of the bar.
Kane resided in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, with her husband Chris Kane, an executive and co-owner in his family’s trucking and warehouse company. The couple has two sons. In October 2014, she suffered a concussion in a car crash. She filed for divorce in Family Court in Lackawanna County, PA, on December 26, 2014.