Live

Watch CBSN Live

Pennsylvania attorney general: Charges tied to porn emails

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Pennsylvania's attorney general said Wednesday that criminal charges threatening to end her career were filed as part of an effort by state prosecutors and judges to conceal pornographic and racially insensitive emails they circulated with one another.

"I am innocent of any wrongdoing," Kathleen Kane said in her first public comments on the case. "I neither conspired with anyone nor did I ask or direct anyone to do anything improper or unlawful."

Kane, the first woman and first Democrat to be elected Pennsylvania attorney general, previously exposed some state employees for exchanging pornographic emails, but she says far more people are involved.

"Today I'm calling for the whole story to come out," Kane said at her news conference. She wants a judge to order all the pornographic and racially or religiously offensive emails to be released.

kaneap675725473871.jpg
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane walks from the State Supreme Court room, Wednesday, March 11, 2015, at City Hall in Philadelphia. Matt Rourke, AP

She said she intends to fight the charges against her. She's charged with leaking grand jury information to a newspaper reporter as payback to a former state prosecutor and then lying about it under oath.

Kane has said through her lawyers that she did nothing wrong and said through a spokesman that she has no plans to quit her post or take a leave. But she has not yet personally commented on the charges, which include multiple misdemeanors and one felony count of perjury.

Kane, 49, won office in 2012. She is the highest-ranking woman in Pennsylvania state government.

She's used similar language from her statement in the past, portraying herself as a political target for taking on what she described as a corrupt, old-boy law enforcement network and exposing state employees who exchanged pornographic emails.

But a growing number of Democratic officials, including Gov. Tom Wolf, have called on her to step down. Her critics worry the charges have damaged the office's credibility and her legal battle will distract her from the responsibilities of her positon.

A citizen's complaint filed with the state Supreme Court's Disciplinary Board may also set in motion a suspension of Kane's law license that could force her out of office. The state constitution requires the attorney general to have a law license.

Prosecutors have also accused Kane of instructing some of her staff to monitor employee emails as the grand jury was wrapping up its investigation of her in late 2014.

Patrick Reese, a former police chief who is Kane's driver and head of her security detail, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a contempt charge involving allegations that he violated a judge's protective order by accessing emails in a state computer system to keep tabs on the grand jury investigation for his boss.

CBS Philadelphia reports that Kane's refusal to resign hasn't stopped others from indicating their desire to be appointed to succeed Kane, including former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham.

Political analyst and pollster Terry Madonna of Franklin and Marshall College says other possible replacements include Geoffrey Moulton, a former Kane aide who now works for Wolf, and former federal prosecutor David Barasch.


View CBS News In