Pennsylvania AG: maybe I’ll sue Inquirer over its coverage

by Walter Olson on March 24, 2014

Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane dropped a longstanding corruption “sting” probe that had snagged several Philly officials. The Philadelphia Inquirer raised questions about her decision in its reporting, which contributed to a public outcry over the episode. Then Attorney General Kane brought a prominent libel litigator with her to a meeting with the Inquirer editors, and that lawyer announced that Kane was exploring her options of suing the paper and others that had reported on the matter, and that he was going to do the talking for her.

On Sunday the paper continued to cover the sting story here and here. Ed Krayewski comments at Reason. Longtime Overlawyered readers may recognize the name of Kane’s attorney Richard Sprague.

{ 3 comments }

1 wfjag 03.24.14 at 1:19 pm

Suing the paper would be one of the dumber things Penn. A.G., Kathleen Kane (D), could do. That would only keep the story alive longer — and it’s likely to have a long life anyway.

Meanwhile, the “Philadelphia Four Run For Reelection”,
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/03/culture-of-corruption-update-2.php No time like the present to find out what the cost of Good Government is in the City of Brotherly Love. Every story about their re-election campaigns provides the chance to re-visit the taped acceptances of “gifts” and Kane’s Kibosh.

Moreover, Kane (who is white) alleges that the sting was based on racism and partisianship. However, the Philly DA, Seth Williams, who is black and a fellow Democrat, thinks those are bogus assertions. “Philly DA Blows the Whistle on Pennsylvania’s State AG”, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/374003/philly-da-blows-whistle-pennsylvanias-state-ag-john-fund

And, then there’s the question of why Kane prevented the Feds from continuing the investigation:

“Williams says he is tired of Kane’s ‘escalating excuses.’ He points out that when she took office, the files on the probe were with federal prosecutors who hadn’t yet concluded whether they wanted to pursue their own case. ‘All she had to do was leave the investigation in the hands of federal authorities,’ Williams wrote in Sunday’s Inquirer. ‘But she didn’t do that. Instead, she asked for the files back. And then, after going out of the way to reclaim the investigation, she shut it down.’”

I’m waiting for Kane to assure us that there isn’t a smidgen of evidence of corruption. Can’t let an independent investigation be done, since it might find something. However, suing will only let the paper cover the suit, and an attempt to quash First Amendment rights (while repeating the story), and get national coverage. So, IMO, on the Good to Bad scale, the threat of suing falls off the Bad side of the meter. Instead, if you can’t blame it on G.W. Bush or the Koch Brothers, then just keep saying “It’s old news”, “It’s old news”, “It’s old news”, and eventually someday it will be (and hope that DA Williams doesn’t have his sights set on being the Good Government (Dem) candidate for Penn. A.G. in the next election).

2 Anonymous Attorney 03.24.14 at 2:52 pm

It’s so stupid on so many levels. There are differing views on whether the prosecution should have been shut down, but it sure looks like 1) she and her team didn’t like Frank Fina and/or didn’t want to give credit to the Republicans who oversaw it previously, 2) reasons of political correctness got in the way (i.e., the four defendants would be black and we don’t want to appear racist, even if the facts support the charges), 3) we don’t want to hurt Democrats, since Kane is one and so are all the potential defendants, and 4) just plain gutlessness and willingness to connive standard-issue Pennsylvania corruption.

But THEN, to hire an attorney TO SPEAK FOR YOU on the topic with the Inquirer editorial board? And otherwise? Didn’t voters entrust YOU with that duty? And what are you so afraid of, anyway? The public doesn’t see “hiring an attorney” as a sign that you’re confident in yourself and your decisions.

When high-placed public officials sue — or even threaten to sue — for defamation, it’s flat-out pathetic. Kane is officially kiboshing any chance for anything higher with this maneuver.

3 Scott 03.24.14 at 4:30 pm

Gosh I wonder if the paper will back down or go twice as hard and wide in it’s reporting?

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