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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Charges against AG Kathleen Kane -- context, history, and the law

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Aug 6, 2015 4:14 PM
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Photo by Bradley C. Bower

What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, August 7, 2015:

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has been charged with leaking secret grand jury information to the media and then lying about it under oath.  Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman announced charges Thursday against Kane of criminal contempt, perjury, obstruction, false swearing, and abuse of office.  If convicted, Kane could face jail time.

Ferman said Kane was trying to embarrass a former prosecutor in the Attorney General's office by leaking the information on a prior grand jury investigation. 

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Photo by Mary Wilson/WITF

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman

WITF's Capitol Bureau Chief Mary Wilson attended Ferman's press conference in Norristown and appears on Friday's Smart Talk to provide context on the charges and the investigation.

Unfortunately, Kane becomes just the latest of many Pennsylvania politicans to be charged criminally.  However, Franklin and Marshall College political analyst and pollster Dr. G. Terry Madonna says Kane's downfall is different than the others.  He'll join us to explain why, give us a historical perspective, and discuss what could happen next with the Office of Attorney General.  Kane released a statement Thursday saying she wouldn't resign.

Finally, grand juries are not commonly used in Pennsylvania to investigate criminal cases.  Widener University Commonwealth Law School Professor Robert Power tells us more about grand juries and the laws Kane is accused of breaking.

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  • Jim Foster img 2015-08-07 08:28

    There is no question that Ms. Kane is entitled to the presumption of innocence. But, in deciding whether or not she should resign as Attorney General, she needs to consider how these charges will affect her ability to serve as the Commonwealth's chief prosecutor. The person who serves in that position has the power and discretion to bring charges against virtually everyone in this state. He or she must have a reputation that is above reproach. Any objective observer has to conclude that the charges she is accused of do have the ring of credibility, without making a judgement about whether or not she is guilty. For these reasons, Ms. Kane must resign as Attorney General.

  • Jim Foster img 2015-08-07 08:31

    There is no question that Ms. Kane is entitled to the presumption of innocence. But, in deciding whether or not she should resign as Attorney General, she needs to consider how these charges will affect her ability to serve as the Commonwealth's chief prosecutor. The person who serves in that position has the power and discretion to bring charges against virtually everyone in this state. He or she must have a reputation that is above reproach. Any objective observer has to conclude that the charges she is accused of do have the ring of credibility, without making a judgement about whether or not she is guilty. For these reasons, Ms. Kane must resign as Attorney General.

  • Life Liberty & Pursuit of Happiness img 2015-08-08 08:12

    If anyone really cares about whether the Office of the Attorney General is capable of doing its job as the law requires and whether AG Kane in particular even intends to do her job, such individuals should read Theft by Deception by John F Halbleib. Recent comment "In this 225 page indictment, Halbleib is calling on the US Attorney General to investigate the initial crime, which was the "$50 million bribe," that was given by the trustees to the PA Attorney General, which created the medical research lab for PSU in 1963. . . . he isn't mincing words and I love it!" http://goo.gl/e29q5T

    Once you’ve read Theft by Deception, you will understand just how corrupt Pennsylvania politics has become. This is not the only book out there, but it is relevant to today’s question of whether AG Kane is doing her job and whether she even intends to do her job!

    If this does not answer all of your questions, then turn to Adoption, Fosterage & Homestead by John F Halbleib. He answers all of the questions posed today by WITF’s Scott Lamar in Adoption, Fosterage & Homestead and in Theft by Deception. See recent comment (above) by third party.