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AG Kane insists she doesn't play politics - abc27 WHTM

AG Kane insists she doesn't play politics

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

"I'm not choosing these topics, they're choosing me," Attorney General Kathleen Kane said with a laugh during a sit-down interview.

Her first six months in office may be the most eventful half-year in the history of Pennsylvania's attorney general.

"People say to me, 'what was the transition like when you started in the office?' There was no transition. We jumped into the deep end of the pool and started swimming," she said.

On Valentine's Day, Kane served notice that there's a new sheriff in town when she called a news conference to announce that Governor Tom Corbett's plan to privatize the Lottery was unconstitutional.

Longtime insiders grumbled that typically legal analysts worked out contractual differences behind the scenes and in private. They felt she was trying to score political points and made a spectacle of the occasion.

Kane was just getting warmed up.

In choosing not to defend Pennsylvania's ban on gay marriage earlier this month, Kane held a news conference and pro-gay marriage pep rally in Philadelphia's National Constitution Center.

She said she didn't think the ban, from a 1996 Pennsylvania law, was constitutional and therefore she wouldn't defend it. The critics said attorneys general cannot pick and choose which laws they defend.

"It's not my personal opinion, it's a legal opinion," she said. "It's based upon the United States Supreme Court recent ruling. It's based upon the Constitution of Pennsylvania. It's based upon the Constitution of the United States. It is a legal opinion."

Many disagree with her and they absolutely despise the manner in which she announced it: in front of a cheering throng of same-sex couples. An attorney general just shouldn't do that, they seethed.

"I think people are free to criticize the manner," Kane said. "I mean, we live in a democracy, you know, you can criticize it. I'm okay with it," she said. "I believe everybody has a right to their opinion., but what it boils down to is that I make legal decisions."

The first six months haven't just been about refusing to do things. Kane has also taken on a lot.

She signed off on the decision to charge several turnpike officials in a pay-to-play scandal. Her office is defending the controversial Voter ID law.

And she believes former Penn State officials Tim Curley, Gary Schultz and Graham Spanier should be found guilty for covering up Jerry Sandusky's crimes.

"I have looked at the case. I believe it's a strong case," she said.

Kane appointed a special investigator to examine how former attorney general Tom Corbett handled the Sandusky investigation. As a candidate, she claimed the investigation was too slow and Sandusky stayed free too long from the initial allegations.

But abc27 has confirmed that Corbett, Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan and lead investigator Randy Feathers have not even been interviewed yet. Some complain she's taking too long.

"The difference is that a predator is off the streets and in jail," she said, "and we are not under a time constraint to make sure that the public is safe."

Kane would not discuss complaints about who has and who has not been interviewed and said there will be no timetable.

"We will leave no stone unturned. We will give only the facts. We will not give our opinions," she said. "It will be the facts, it will be the truth, and it will be in one story; not bits and pieces thrown out like a puzzle to the press."

Kane is a married mother of two boys who spends nearly every night at home in Scranton. Her husband owns a trucking company, Kane is Able, which made $14 million last year from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. It's expected to make the same this year.

I ask if she could objectively deal with any legal issues involving the PLCB or Corbett's attempt to privatize it, which could cost her husband a big contract.

"Kane is Able has a contract with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They truck and warehouse liquor. But if anything ever came up, if there was ever a conflict of interest or a potential conflict, then we would delegate it to the Office of General Counsel," she said.

As a candidate, Kane's slogan was "a prosecutor, not a politician," but critics say that politics now govern her every move.

She dismisses that as partisan politics at its worst.

"I think that there's always going to be critics, and I had to get used to the fact that not everyone is going to like me or not everyone is going to love me, but I don't play politics," she said.

Whether she's playing or not, she's good at it. She got more than 3 million votes last November; more than President Barack Obama and more than Senator Bob Casey. Without question, she is a darling of the Democrats and their current "it" girl.

Columnists across the state are whispering that she might be running for governor as soon as next year. She says the whispers are wrong.

"I'll be honest with you, I don't believe my own press," she says with another huge laugh. "I don't. I think that's dangerous to just believe your own press and believe what people say you are or aren't. I do my job."

 

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