BY ROBERT SWIFT, HARRISBURG BUREAU CHIEF
HARRISBURG — A special Senate committee Wednesday gave embattled state Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane a breather from any quick vote by that chamber to remove her from office.
The Committee on Special Address urged a delay on a vote to remove Ms. Kane until the state Supreme Court rules on her recent petition to reinstate her law license. The committee has spent several months considering whether Ms. Kane can remain as the state’s top law enforcement official with a suspended law license.
The committee voted 4-3 along party lines, with Republicans in the majority, to recommend a removal vote if and when the court acts to continue her license suspension. However, the committee made no recommendation on how that vote should go. The GOP members on the panel said individual senators would make their own decisions.
“I believe she (Ms. Kane) should be removed from office,” said panel chairman Sen. John Gordner, R-27, Berwick, offering his own view.
Two committee members — Sens. Lisa Baker, R-20, Lehman Twp., and Gene Yaw, R-23, Williamsport, — said the Senate should vote once the court upholds the license suspension.
“The evidence gathered in this process raises serious questions as to whether Ms. Kane is rigorously abiding by the restrictions imposed as part of her suspended law license…,” said Ms. Baker.
Panel member Sen. Art Haywood, D-4, Roslyn, called for an end to the Senate effort to remove Ms. Kane by a floor vote.
He said the committee has little evidence that Ms. Kane is practicing law without a license.
Direct removal would require Gov. Tom Wolf to take action following a two-thirds Senate vote to remove Ms. Kane for “reasonable cause.” The direct removal process has not been used successfully since it was added to the constitution in the 1870s.
Ms. Kane believes the committee made an appropriate decision to wait for a court ruling on her license suspension, said spokesman Chuck Ardo.
What would the Senate have done if they voted to remove Ms. Kane one day and the court reinstated her license the next day, asked Terry Madonna, Ph.D., pollster at Franklin and Marshall College.
“I think the Senate did the prudent thing given such a narrow scope of consideration,” he said
The Supreme Court suspended Ms. Kane’s license last fall after she was charged with obstruction, conspiracy and perjury in connection with leaking secret grand jury information to a reporter.
Ms. Kane filed her petition earlier this month seeking the license reinstatement. The state Office of Disciplinary Counsel — an arm of the court — responded that the full court should deny her request, but there’s no word on when the court — newly reconfigured under a Democratic majority — would act.
Ms. Kane, a Democrat, is considering running in the April 26 primary for a second term.
Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee launched an investigation Tuesday into whether Ms. Kane should be impeached for misbehavior in office. Impeachment would involve a House vote to impeach and a trial in the Senate with a two-thirds vote needed for conviction.