State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

For Kane, Focus Now Shifts to House Impeachment Effort

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Feb 12, 2016 12:07 AM

State Attorney General Kathleen Kane has survived a removal attempt by the state Senate, but the House has opened an investigation that could lead to her impeachment.

House members voted overwhelmingly to begin the probe, tasking a subcommittee to determine whether Kane could be impeached based on any "misbehavior in office."

House Democratic Minority Leader Frank Dermody led the 1993 probe into the late Supreme Court justice Rolf Larsen, the last Pennsylvania official to be impeached.

"The impeachment process, you know it doesn't have to be a crime," said Dermody. "The constitutional standard is misbehavior in office. And it's up to the Legislature to determine what that is, what that means. It's a political trial."

Some lawmakers openly speculated that the Senate vote on Kane's removal might have tainted any impeachment proceeding against her. An impeachment vote in the House would result in a trial before the Senate.

"They are potential jurors," said Dermody. But he doubts that the removal effort leaves any whiff of bias on senators because their inquiry was so narrow.

"It might not have poisoned the whole well," said Dermody. "The reason they were going to consider removal was because of her law license."

The Senate's removal effort was focused on whether Kane could fulfill her duties with a suspended law license. The state Supreme Court ordered the suspension in October and upheld the ruling last week.

"The standards are completely different," said Bruce Ledewitz, a constitutional law professor at Duquesne University School of Law. Impeachment is a punitive measure reserved for poor conduct, added Ledewitz, while the direct address procedure embarked on by the Senate is meant to correct the incapacity of someone in office.

Kane is awaiting trial in August for perjury and other counts for allegedly leaking confidential investigative information and lying about it under oath. She maintains her innocence.

Published in State House Sound Bites

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