On the eve of quitting, AG press secretary Chuck Ardo sits down ABC27

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – “Tomorrow morning, first thing, I intend to contact the office and terminate my contract,” Chuck Ardo said Monday afternoon at the ABC27 studios.

Ardo has been press secretary for Attorney General Kathleen Kane for 13 months. A pretty good run, I suggest, as compared to the previous seven men and women who tried, and failed, to hold the job.

“That’s kinda like claiming a marriage that ends in divorce worked out fine for a short period of time,” Ardo said. “It’s still a marriage that ends in divorce.”

Ardo, who has a $10,000 a month contract until December, did say he’s sad not to see it through until the end of Kane’s tenure.

But the veteran press man has been here before. He worked previously for Linda Thompson, the controversial mayor of Harrisburg. Prior to that, he spent more than six years with Governor Ed Rendell. He took the job with Kane at Rendell’s urging and says he’s already heard from the former governor.

What did Rendell say?

“He thought my departure was inevitable,” Ardo said with a laugh.

Kane certainly kept Ardo’s plate full. During his tenure, she was charged criminally with perjury, had her law license suspended, lost numerous staffers, opened the Pandora’s box of pornographic emails among powerful Pennsylvanians and has made questionable hires that Ardo was frequently forced to defend.

“I got there just as she promoted John Duecker to be her chief-of-staff despite the fact that he had been accused of sexual harassment and the Internal Affairs people recommended he be dismissed,” Ardo said.

He also noted the appointment of Douglas Gansler to investigate those porn emails and Bruce Castor as solicitor general as hires that many questioned and Ardo isn’t so sure were proper.

But he said media reports of an office in disarray were overblown. He said the vast majority of staffers in the Office of Attorney General are hard working despite the distractions at the top. He did concede the relationship between Kane and her top deputies is strained.

“She really doesn’t make any effort to communicate with the senior staff,” Ardo said.

Critics around the Capitol might take issue with Ardo’s communicating with the press so openly about his departure, but Ardo says his first priority is to be open and honest with the taxpayers for whom he works. He said it’s important that they know how their government operates.

“Anybody who believes that, you know, government ought to operate in silence and secrecy needs to move to North Korea,” he said.

The bottom line: it’s a press secretary’s job to defend the boss’s position. Ardo found that harder and harder to do for Kathleen Kane.

“You can’t do the job when you fundamentally disagree with that position,” he said.

Attempts to get a response from the Office of Attorney General were unsuccessful. A phone call and an email were not returned on the Memorial Day holiday.Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download the ABC27 News App and the ABC27 Weather App for your phone and tablet.

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