Posts Tagged law

This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: State Spending During Budget Impasse


Radio Program Schedule for the week of December 12, 2015 – December 18, 2015

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm has news headlines from PAIndependent.com
  • Lowman Henry has a Newsmaker interview with State Representative Chris Dush co-author of a Report on State Spending During the Budget Impasse
  • Eric Montarti and Frank Gamrat have an Allegheny Institute Report on demise of the proposed severance tax on Marcellus shale drillers
  • Beth Anne Mumford has a guide to dealing with that progressive who comes home for the holidays

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Veronique de Rugy from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University about abolishing the U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Doug Sachtleben of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on the federal budget stalemate
  • Eric Boehm and Matt Kittle have a Watchdog Radio Report on a Wisconsin prosecutor run afoul of campaign finance laws
  • Colin Hanna of Let Freedom Ring, USA has an American Radio Journal commentary on President Obama’s ISIS speech

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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Public Opinion Court: Unions Yes, Special Union Privileges No


A recent Public Opinion Court focus group session empaneled by the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc. on Worker Freedom and Economic Progress found a generally favorable opinion of labor unions, but a lack of support for the special privileges that unions currently enjoy within the Pennsylvania political and policy structures.

The Public Opinion Court is a research vehicle developed by the Lincoln Institute to allow for more in-depth probing of an issue area than can be accomplished by a public opinion poll.  Members of the focus group are not told in advance what issue they will be discussing.  Thus they come into the session with common knowledge of the issue.  The process begins by having the focus group take an entry survey.  Following the entry survey an advocate addresses each side of the issue.  The advocates speak separately, with focus group members given time to ask questions.  After each advocate speaks, the group engages in a roundtable discussion on the issue.  The focus group then concludes with an exit survey designed to measure how opinions may have changed as the group went from common knowledge of the issue to being more informed.

For this Public Opinion Court session the issue advocates were Rick Smith, host ofThe Rick Smith Show, a labor union-backed public affairs radio program.  David Taylor, President of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association advocated for the pro-growth position.  Each speaker was given 20 minutes to make a presentation, followed by 10 minutes of Q & A with the focus group participants.

The Public Opinion Court focus group session was held on Monday, September 19, 2015 at the Reckner research facility in Chalfont, Bucks County.  The focus group participants were recruited from the five county Philadelphia metropolitan area. The focus group was balanced by age, gender, race, political party affiliation and, to the degree possible urban/suburban.  The goal was to make the group as closely representative of the state at-large, although it more accurately reflects the composition of the electorate in southeastern Pennsylvania.

A major theme that emerged from the group discussion was the lack of information voters in southeastern Pennsylvania receive about state government.  While all of the participants were able to correctly identify Mitch McConnell as the leader of the U.S. Senate and John Boehner as the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, none could identify Joseph Scarnati as the President Pro Tempore of the Pennsylvania Senate or Mike Turzai as Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.  The group agreed that media coverage of state issues in southeastern Pennsylvania is inadequate.

The group was more familiar with bigger picture labor power issues, such as Right to Work, but significantly less familiar with state-related union power issues like dues deduction and carve-outs for activities such as stalking, harassment and threats to use a weapon of mass destruction.  They were also largely unaware of the influence labor unions wield over politics and public policy in Pennsylvania.

Included in the focus group were two individuals who currently are members of a labor union and two participants who are retired, but were labor union members during their careers.  Of the two currently enrolled as a union member, one is a member by choice and the other a member as a condition of employment.

In both the entry and exit survey the participants held a generally positive view of labor unions.  Entering the session two had a very favorable impression of unions, seven a somewhat favorable view. Four offered a somewhat unfavorable opinion; nobody viewed unions very unfavorably.  There was only slight movement in the exit survey, so no major shift in opinion occurred as a result of the group discussion.  Entering the session, six participants agreed with the statement that labor unions were needed at one time to ensure workplace safety standards and fair wages, but are not generally needed in today’s society.  Seven disagreed with that statement.  In the exit survey one person switched from agreeing to disagreeing with the statement.

Although viewing labor unions favorably, there was strong support for a Right to Work law.  When asked if they favor or oppose enactment of what is commonly known as a Right to Work law, whereby a worker cannot be compelled to join or pay fees to a labor union as a condition of employment, in the entry survey four strongly favored such a law, eight somewhat favored a Right to Work law.  One person somewhat opposed such a law.  Nobody changed their opinion on the exit survey.  This result is significant given there were two active and two former union members in the focus group indicating opposition to a Right to Work law by union leaders does not trickle down through union membership.

Significant time was devoted to a discussion of exemptions in state law that allow stalking, harassment and threats to use weapons of mass destruction during a labor dispute.  The group was in disbelief that such carve-outs in state law even existed.  There was a lack of knowledge that labor union leaders have been blocking legislation in Harrisburg that would eliminate those carve-outs.  The group unanimously – in both the entry and the exit survey – indicated the carve-outs should be eliminated.

The group also unanimously agreed that there is never a circumstance in which acts of violence are justified to force a company to use union labor on a project.  The group was split, with six having heard of and seven not knowing about the recent case in Philadelphia involving the indictment and conviction of numerous Iron Worker union officials for crimes including violence, threats and vandalism.

Currently governments at all levels – state, county, school district and municipal – at taxpayer expense deduct labor union dues from members’ paychecks and forward the money to unions.  There is legislation being considered in Harrisburg that would end the practice and require labor unions to collect their dues money through private, rather than government means.  Nine members of the focus group oppose such forced deduction of labor union dues, four favor it.  Views did not change in the exit survey.

When a group of employees are voting on whether or not to form a labor union they currently do so by secret ballot.  Labor union leaders would like to change to law to make the voting process public.  Such a move raises concerns that the lack of anonymity would put pressure on employees to vote in favor of unionization.  The Public Opinion Court focus group unanimously agreed in both the entry and exit survey that such decisions should be made by secret ballot.

Raising the minimum wage, however, resulted in a split decision.  Nine entered the session favoring an increase in the state’s minimum wage, four opposed.   But, when asked if raising the minimum wage would result in fewer jobs and/or less hours being available for minimum wage workers, support for raising the minimum wage dropped to four participants with nine indicating opposition.

During the group discussion phase of the Public Opinion Court session several issues arose that were not included in the entry/exit survey process.  Several times the group returned to the state budget impasse.  While there was general knowledge about the stalemate, the group was largely unaware of such significant developments as the partial veto over-ride attempt, the second budget offer made by legislative Republicans or a then-pending vote for a stopgap budget.  The group also lacked comprehensive knowledge of the size and scope of Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed tax hikes.

The state’s public employee pension crisis also arose during group discussion.  There was general awareness of the problem and its significance to taxpayers.  The group was in unanimous agreement that those already retired and those currently employed should remain in the current defined benefits pension system and that the state should honor its pension obligations.   However, the group also unanimously agreed that the current system is unsustainable and that the state must move to a 401k-style defined contribution system.  Most were unaware of the passage of legislation last June to do just that and the fact Governor Wolf vetoed that legislation due to opposition by labor union leaders.

On each occasion when the group discussed government dysfunction, the participants fell back on one prescription for change: term limits.  Term limits were not mentioned in either the entry or exit survey, nor were they brought up by either speaker or the panel moderator.  Despite that, the group repeatedly and unanimously and with enthusiasm felt that career politicians were at the heart of the state (and national) government’s woes.  For example, when discussing the state’s pension crisis and the cost of legislative pensions to taxpayers, the group offered term limits as a solution which would make legislative pensions obsolete.

Conclusion

Efforts in Harrisburg to curtail special treatment for labor unions have failed repeatedly due largely to an alliance between Democrats and suburban Philadelphia Republican legislators who unite in opposition to such reforms as enactment of Right to Work legislation; ending union dues deduction and eliminating carve-out that allow for harassment, stalking and threats to use weapons of mass destruction during labor disputes.

That handful of suburban Republican senators and representatives who have stymied reform efforts claim they are representing the views of their constituents and must vote with organized labor in order to win re-election.   Results of this Public Opinion Court focus group session indicate that argument is not valid.  While labor unions are generally viewed favorably, on issue after issue the focus group supported reform measures, with even some current and former union members in agreement.  The political equation in Harrisburg has changed with the coming to power of enhanced Republican majorities in the current legislative session reducing the influence of union-backed GOP members.  However, Governor Tom Wolf – whose campaign was heavily financed by organized labor – now wields a veto pen over labor policy reforms.

Demographics

The Public Opinion Court focus group session on labor power issues was balanced by gender, seven males and six females.  There was at least one participant in each age group, with the largest participant group being between 50-65 years of age.  Income skewed high, as expected in the Philadelphia suburban region, but did include those in the middle income categories.  The group included seven Democrats, five Republicans and one Independent.  The focus group included four members with graduate degrees, six with a four-year degree, one with a post-secondary certificate, one with a high school degree, and one with secondary education.   Ten of the participants lived in a suburban area, two in an urban area and one in a rural area.

(The Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc. is a 501c3 nonprofit educational foundation based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania that focuses on pro-growth economic issues.)

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Immigration Focus Misses the Problem


Donald Trump’s comments on illegal immigrants have ignited the latest firestorm to engulf the herd of candidates seeking the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.  But by continuing to focus on illegal immigration the debate misses a much larger problem: the sad state of America’s relationship with our neighbor to the south.

Two wars and instability in the mid-east, Russian aggression, and Chinese economic warfare have pushed U.S.-Mexican relations to the foreign policy back burner.  David Shirk, a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C. summed it up well saying: “I think the challenge, the problem is that Mexico is actually quite important to the United States, but (President Barack) Obama is so embattled on so many fronts that he hasn’t been able to give Mexico the bandwidth that it deserves . . .”

U.S. – Mexican relations have been fraught with difficulty and conflict for centuries.  President James K. Polk, out of a sense of Manifest Destiny, fought the Mexican-American War which ended in 1848 with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo establishing the Rio Grande as the border between U.S. and Mexico and giving the United States what is now the American southwest.

It’s hard to tell whether or not Mexico still harbors a grudge against losing nearly one-third of its territory centuries ago, but the current state of relations between the two nations is hardly what one would expect given our close economic ties. That bond was strengthened by enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement during the Clinton Administration making the United States Mexico’s top trading partner.

Census data shows that since 1980 Mexicans have been the largest immigrant group into the United States.  From 1990-2010 more than 7.5 million immigrants, many illegal, have poured over the border into this country.  Some have moved on, to Canada, Spain and even Guatemala, but most have stayed.

The scope of the problem is clear, but upon even casual reflection so too are the causes.  The Mexican economy is in the dumpster and the nation is riddled by internal conflict between the government and drug cartels, and among the drug cartels themselves.  Add in a healthy dose of government corruption and it is clear the Mexican state is dysfunctional leading many citizens to give up hope and move north in search of a better life.

Problems begin with the government itself.  “Corruption and weakness in Mexico’s judicial and police sectors have largely allowed the drug trade to flourish,” concluded a report by the Council on Foreign Relations.  And flourish it has; 90% of the illegal drugs entering the United States originate or arrive via Mexico.  Mexico is the prime source of marijuana and methamphetamines sold in the U.S.  This trade comes at a significant cost, as more than 60,000 Mexicans have died in domestic drug-related violence since 2006.

U.S. – Mexican relations hit a low point last year when the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto allowed U.S. Marine reservist Sgt. Andrew Tahmoressi to languish in a Mexican prison for 214 days after he inadvertently wandered over the border.  The irony of Mexico holding one American who crossed the border while millions of Mexicans cross into the U.S. unfettered was not lost on many.

With its economy in shambles, corruption rampant and the drug trade pervasive immigration to the United States, legal and illegal, has continued at a brisk pace slowing only during the Great Recession when U.S. job opportunities also dried up. As the U.S. slowly recovers from that recession, the pace of immigration is also likely to accelerate.

All the while the American political establishment continues to fixate on the symptom rather than the cause of the problem.  Unless and until Mexico can get its own affairs in order, immigrants will continue to stream north.  Mexicans would be less likely to leave family and cultural ties behind to face an uncertain fate in the United States if they were safe, secure and had economic opportunities in their homeland.

Much of this, unfortunately, is outside the ability of the United States to fix.  Massive corruption and political instability are matters which Mexico must address internally. But U.S. foreign policy must focus more intently on our southern neighbor to quash the drug trade and to foster a more robust Mexican economy.  By so doing we will stop addressing symptoms and begin to cure the cause of the immigration problem.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address islhenry@lincolninstitute.org)

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Epic Failure in Baltimore


The real victim of the riots in Baltimore is the Left-wing philosophy of cradle-to-grave big government that has inevitably collapsed under the weight of its own faulty theories and inept implementation.  It wasn’t just a drug store that went up in flames; it was generations of nanny state public policy that got incinerated in Lord Baltimore’s burg.

If ever there was a poster child for a progressive Utopia it would be the city of Baltimore.  Nestled by the bay of the most liberal state in the union, Baltimore has been ruled by Democrats of the most Leftist variety for a half century.  As a majority black municipality, Baltimore is governed by an African-American mayor and city council.  The police chief is African-American as are three of the six officers involved in the tragedy that sparked the violence.

There is no way to claim racial under-representation.  Yet mostly young blacks took to the streets out of frustration to protest, and then riot in a desperate bid to be heard. With race not being a factor, the only conclusion that can be reached is that those governing the city, and the policies they champion, have failed.

Let us set aside for now the fact many of the rioters were simply taking advantage of the situation, and that the mayor’s handling of the riots was incompetent.  Rather, we should examine the root causes of the city’s failure, of which there are at least four:

The most significant factor contributing to the crisis is the decline of the family unit.  It is rare in such an instance of societal meltdown for one image to encapsulate the solution to the problem.  The mom who saw her son rioting, went out into the street, literally smacked him upside the head (repeatedly) and then dragged him home represents the ultimate solution.

Young people need somebody who cares; somebody who will be both a mentor and a disciplinarian.  The skyrocketing rate of out-of-wedlock births has deprived many children of a stable two-parent household, and sadly in all too many cases, not even one responsible adult is present.  Policies that foster stronger family ties, rather than seeking to replace the family with government programs are a foundational step that must be taken.

Second, it is time to admit public education in our cities is a failure.  Federal, state and local school district spending on public education has far outpaced the rate of inflation for decades, yet our inner city public schools continue to fail.  Teacher unions and bloated bureaucracies, rather than students have been the prime beneficiaries of this taxpayer largess.  In some cities – Washington, D.C. is a prime example – charter schools have provided students and parents with choices.  But union opposition has kept charter schools from realizing their full potential and trapped students in under-performing schools.

Third, good job opportunities are a must.  The unemployment rate among African-Americans is more than double the national average, worse in urban cores.  Decades of overtaxation and hyper-regulation have driven business and industry out of cities.  As the good jobs have left, so too have the people qualified to hold them; leaving a largely unskilled workforce which serves as an additional disincentive to economic development.

And speaking of disincentives, our system of public welfare must be reformed to encourage recipients to seek the education or training that leads to employment.  Arcane and complex public assistance formulas often create welfare “cliffs” that make it more profitable for recipients to stay on welfare than to enter the work force.

The time has come for a complete reassessment of urban public policy.  Decades of experimenting with government centered solutions have clearly failed.  These progressive policies that trap people in poverty must be tossed out and replaced with a realistic approach based on time-proven principles that will help people move from poverty to prosperity.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolnisntitute.org)

Permission to reprint is granted provide author and affiliation are cited.

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PA Dems Flounder on Shoals of Corruption


There are two ways to remove a Band-Aid; in one sharp motion getting the pain over quickly, or pulling it off slowly allowing the pain to linger.  Democrats in Pennsylvania appear to subscribe to both approaches when it comes to dealing with the misdeeds of their statewide elected officials.

 

Former State Treasurer Rob McCord abruptly resigned from office in late January revealing he was going to plead guilty to charges that he attempted to extort campaign funds from companies interested in doing business with the state.  The crimes occurred while McCord was battling now-Governor Tom Wolf for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination last spring.

 

The McCord denouement came swiftly.  In a town that leaks like a sieve, there was surprisingly little advance rumor of the charges; news of which McCord broke himself.  The former treasurer spared the commonwealth the usual drama which surrounds such things by accepting responsibility for his actions and promptly leaving office.  He has now disappeared from the headlines.

 

And then there is the case of Kathleen Kane.  The term “embattled” is appended to virtually every news article written about the attorney general who is currently under investigation by the Montgomery County District Attorney for allegedly leaking secret grand jury information.  Charges have been recommended by that grand jury and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently ruled the process legal and correct.

 

Suffice it to say General Kane is in hot water.  As if that were not enough, news broke that she scuttled an investigation into a northeastern Pennsylvania casino probe.  And, the Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has successfully prosecuted another investigation Kane dropped involving several Philadelphia legislators who allegedly took bribes.  This, along with a revolving door among her top staffers has produced an agency in crisis and an attorney general in political peril.

 

Unlike McCord, Kane is fighting back.  She has hired big guns associated with her political patrons, Bill and Hillary Clinton, refuses to resign and plans to fight any criminal charges which may be filed against her.

This could not be worse news for Pennsylvania Democrats.  The party can ill afford going into a major election year with the state’s highest elected law enforcement official under a cloud, or possibly under indictment.  Add in the McCord misfire, along with the Philadelphia legislator scandal, and what you have is the image of a political party steeped in corruption.

Already the steady stream of negative headlines is having an effect.  In just the last couple of weeks Democrats lost a special election for a legislative seat in Philadelphia, something that hasn’t happened in decades.  A Quinnipiac University poll shows Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey leading likely Democratic challenger Joe Sestak by double digits.  The poll even found U.S. Senator Rand Paul leading presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton by one point.  And, the poll was taken before Senator Paul’s official announcement of candidacy which likely will give him a further bounce.

Clearly the scandals surrounding Pennsylvania Democrats could have national implications.  Pat Toomey has been listed as one of the most vulnerable Republican senators up for re-election next year, if only because of the large Democratic voter registration lead in Pennsylvania.  But, to date, he has overcome that edge.  And, there is absolutely no plausible mathematical formula for Democrats to win the White House in 2016 without carrying Pennsylvania.

It remains to be seen whether or not Republicans will be able to take advantage of the culture of corruption surrounding state Democrats.  But one thing is for sure, the slow removal of the Kane Band-Aide ensures the issue will remain alive for the foreseeable future.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org)

 

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Demystifying the Judicial Branch


With five statewide appellate court seats up for election – including three on the Supreme Court – an unusual political spotlight is focused this year on the judicial branch of government.  Partisan control of the Supreme Court, yes there is such a thing, hangs in the balance as a wide range of future policy issues and ultimately congressional redistricting will end up before the justices elected this year.
This also presents a unique opportunity to pierce the mystique spun by the legal profession that the courts are somehow special, above the realm of politics and political maneuvering and of higher stature than the other two – supposedly co-equal – branches of government.  The courts are not, and should not, be considered special.  Different, indeed, as each branch of government has its own distinct and unique role.  But special it is not.
Just as labor unions exert out-sized influence over the legislature, the legal profession via the Bar Association holds sway over the selection of judges, particularly at the state level.  Through a secretive vetting process the Bar Association rates the candidates with an eye toward influencing the party endorsement and election processes.
Given the fact that lawyers are but one sub-set of the electorate with a stake in the judiciary, the degree of influence the Bar’s recommendations have had in the past jeopardizes the fairness of the courts.  The carefully crafted illusion is that Bar Association recommendations are somehow the bestowing of superior wisdom on a clueless electorate.  In fact, the Bar ratings are just the views of yet another special interest group.  An important special interest group, yes, but an interest group nonetheless.
Voters should approach the Bar Association’s ratings in that light.  Further, their ratings should be viewed with all the suspicion of a Brian Williams war story.  Members of the evaluation commission are selected in the absence of any public input, their deliberations are secret and the factors weighing on their recommendations are kept from public view.  This total lack of transparency is the exact opposite of the endorsement processes of the political parties where those doing the endorsement are themselves elected by voters, the endorsement meetings are open to the media, and the votes of state committee members recorded for all to see.
A controversy has arisen over the Bar’s ratings this year because they are refusing to recommend Commonwealth Court Judge Ann Covey for a seat on the state Supreme Court.  Judge Covey was endorsed by the Republican State Committee pitting the party against the Bar.  Covey, refusing to play by the Bar Association’s rules, has publicly criticized the recommendation process and questioned its fairness.
Further eroding the Bar Association’s credibility is the fact that the current Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Justice Tom Saylor, was not recommended by the group in his first run for a judicial post.  Given the fact he has now become the top jurist in Penn’s Woods, the Bar is left with considerable egg on its face.
The current mess created by the Bar Association also adds one more argument to those who oppose the merit selection of judges.  If the legal community conducts its recommendation process in secret, what kind of back room deals might we expect from merit selection?  Further, the formerly staid recommendation process has now become embroiled in controversy as a result of its own failings.
It is time for voters to take charge.  The state Supreme Court races will top the ballot this year meaning there is no presidential, senatorial or gubernatorial race to steal the spotlight.  The state’s news media need to step up and cover the court races like they would other statewide races because the positions merit that level of debate and scrutiny.  And voters need to educate themselves, both in the primary and general elections, about the candidates so they can make an informed decision when going to the polls.
This is an opportunity for We the People to have an impact on a vitally important and co-equal branch of state government.  It is time to push aside the mystique of the judiciary.  We must take this election with the same degree of seriousness we do in electing our governor and our legislators.
Because in the end judges matter.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

 

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Kane is Not Able


Politics, the saying goes, is all about timing.

If that is so, State Representative Daryl Metcalfe was a man ahead of his time when last year he introduced a measure calling for the impeachment of state Attorney General Kathleen Kane.  Metcalfe based his call for the attorney general’s removal on her refusal to defend the state’s statute prohibiting same sex marriage.  The specific statute aside, defending existing state laws is a core duty for a state attorney general.  Failing to do so was indeed a dereliction.

Metcalfe’s efforts went nowhere, but a string of recent events have eroded confidence in the attorney general who has at a minimum engaged in bizarre behavior and verbal miscues and, at worse, may herself be a law-breaker for having potentially violated grand jury secrecy provisions.  Even the news media, which hailed her as the second coming of Barack Obama, has fallen out of love.  Many now question her ability to continue in office.

It is true most Pennsylvanians don’t wake up in the morning thinking about their attorney general.   Although it has risen above the other statewide constitutional offices (treasurer and auditor general) in profile, the attorney general is not generally subject to the same media scrutiny as governors and U.S. Senators.

But, since Pennsylvania attorneys general frequently try and sometimes succeed in achieving higher office, their performance is worth noting.  After her solid election victory in 2012 Kane herself was viewed as a rising star.  Like Ernie Preate, Mike Fisher and Tom Corbett before her she was expected to seek higher office. Now there are doubts she will even finish her current term.

For those who are unaware, the Office of Attorney General holds significant power.  The attorney general is not merely an elected paper pusher.  He or she is vested with sweeping investigatory power, including the ability to authorize wiretaps and to prosecute.  We task our attorneys general with everything from fighting illegal drugs to rooting out Medicaid fraud.  We trust them with overseeing our state’s charitable organizations, and count on them to work cooperatively with local police. This is a serious office conducting serious business.

But the evidence now reveals the current occupant is not up to the task.

Several weeks ago Attorney General Kane was injured when her official state car crashed into another vehicle.  Weeks went by before the media, and by extension the public, were made aware of the incident.   Interestingly, the timing was intertwined with an investigation into leaks of grand jury information in which the attorney general was expected to testify.  Such leaks are a crime, so if it is proven Kane was a party to them she likely would be compelled to leave office immediately.

Then there is the issue of competency.  After exploiting the Jerry Sandusky scandal for political advantage her office concluded then Attorney General Tom Corbett acted appropriately in conducting the investigation.  She declined to prosecute after a sting operation found several Philadelphia lawmakers allegedly taking bribes.  The Philadelphia District Attorney is now on the case.  Kane zigged and zagged on the e-mail porn scandal, ultimately claiming some of the e-mails contained borderline child pornography. Her office retracted that statement, but not before it made national news.  Kane and her office received yet another black eye when they cut a plea bargain with former Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission executives indicted under her predecessor.   They received no jail time for their misdeeds.

The question now is: what next?  If Kane is found to have leaked grand jury information she will clearly have to resign.  If she is exonerated there will be no criminal charge, but the state will be left with an attorney general who has failed to uphold state law, refused to follow-up on investigations, left corrupt government officials off easy, and has a penchant for mis-speaking.

The simple solution would be for her to resign and allow incoming governor Tom Wolf to appoint her successor.  That would take partisan politics out of the equation.  Or, she could limp through the next two years leaving it up to voters to decide whether or not to give her a second term.

Or perhaps, someone could place a call to Daryl Metcalfe.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  He is a former executive assistant to the Attorney General of Pennsylvania.   His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

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