Panel chair can subpoena in AG Kane impeachment probe

A legislative subcommittee investigating the possible impeachment of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane for misbehavior in office voted Tuesday to authorize its chairman to issue subpoenas.

The House Subcommittee on Courts gave Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery, the ability to demand documents and testimony and it started a process of seeking secret grand jury records and protecting possible witnesses against retaliation.

Kane, a Democrat, has been without a law license since October and awaits trial on criminal allegations she leaked grand jury information and lied about it under oath. A message left at her office seeking comment was not immediately returned. She is not seeking a second term in the November election.

Stephens said the committee has hired Philadelphia lawyer Joe Poluka to assist it, and the moves authorized on Tuesday are expected to cost about $50,000 in legal fees.

Stephens said some of the more than 800 people who work in the attorney general's office have told him they have information that may be of help to the committee, but they want assurances they won't be punished professionally if they cooperate. That could require seeking protective orders from a judge, Stephens said, a process that will require support of the Judiciary Committee's Republican chairman and ranking Democrat.

He declined to say when the first subpoenas will be issued. Kane will be allowed to address the subcommittee if she chooses, Stephens said.

The subcommittee expects to make a recommendation to the Judiciary Committee.

The state Senate vote fell four votes short in February of removing Kane under a provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution that is separate from the House-initiated impeachment process.

The process underway in the House was authorized in February by a vote of 170 to 12.