Rendell testifies against Attorney General Kane’s removal

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Former Governor Ed Rendell was back at the state Capitol on Tuesday, arguing on behalf of Attorney General Kathleen Kane that she should not be removed from office because her law license was suspended by the state Supreme Court.

Rendell, a Democrat, was asked by Kane's camp to testify, along with Kane's Chief of Staff Jonathan Duecker and former Pa. Attorney General Walter Cohen, who declined the invitation.

Kane, meanwhile, was a no-show at the special Senate committee hearing designed to investigate her effectiveness in office. She has consistently questioned the committee's constitutional authority to remove her under Article VI, Section VII, and maintains if the Senate wants to remove her, it should be through impeachment.

Rendell agrees.

The former governor testified while he was District Attorney of Philadelphia, 95 percent of his job duties dealt with administrative duties, policy setting, and community outreach. Very rarely did his job fall under strictly law-related issues.

"Your complaint with Kathleen Kane isn't that she doesn't have a law license," Rendell told the panel. "Your complaint is her conduct."

Rendell verbally sparred with the bipartisan Senate committee panel for an hour. Removing her through this direct method, which hasn't been used in over a century, would cause chaos, he said. Specifically, he asked, what would happen if the Senate voted to remove her due to her lack of a law license, but a Democrat-majority Supreme Court then reinstated it?

On Monday, Kane filed to the Supreme Court to have her license reinstated, on the basis that one of the justices responsible in voting for her suspension, Michael Eakin, was recently suspended himself due to ethics violations.

"This statute hasn't been used in 100 years. It should only be used if there are no other remedies on the books," Rendell said. "There is. It's called impeachment."

Prior to Rendell's testimony, Kane's Chief of Staff Jonathan Duecker testified for more than two hours. Once he finished reading his 11-page written statement, which included reasons why he feels the Office of the Attorney General is excelling, Duecker was often times peppered with questions from the senators.

The most heated exchanges were saved for Sen. Joe Scarnati, the ex-officio member of the committee, who took exception to Duecker's claim any questions on the effectiveness of Kane as Attorney General need only look at the office's website.

"You're implying with the website she's still a licensed attorney," Scarnati said.

Later, during a second round of questions, Scarnati yelled at Duecker after he admitted to not knowing Kane's work schedule, and how many days of the week she's been at work.

"I guarantee any of the other Chiefs of Staff in this room know exactly our schedules," Scarnati said of the other five senators on the panel. The seventh member, Sen. Sean Wiley (D-Erie) was stranded in a snowstorm. "You can't be this effective, worldly, well-respected Attorney General, with all these great appointments and positions, if you don't come to work. She can't make decisions and if she is making decisions it's in violation of the law!"

The Special Committee on Senate Address now has 15 days to recommend to the full Senate whether to remove Kane from her position. If they do, the Senate would need a two-thirds majority vote to remove her.

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