HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Embattled Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane could be removed from office by way of direct removal as early as this week, State Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman tells FOX43.
Corman (R-Centre) says he plans on bringing the attorney general's future up for a full-Senate vote later this week. The direct removal process was launched in November to determine if Kane, or any attorney general, is able to perform their job without a law license after hers was suspended by the state Supreme Court. A two-thirds vote by the Senate would allow Gov. Wolf to remove her as attorney general.
"We're setting precedent here, one way or another," Corman said. "This is not a light issue. Removing someone from office is a significant thing to do. It has to have an extreme circumstance and this circumstance is one issue; can she function without a law license?"
The Senate committee designed to investigate Kane's ability to fulfill her duties as attorney general without a license decided to move forward with the direct removal proceedings after the state Supreme Court ruled Friday she would not have her license reinstated.
The direct removal process has not been used since 1891, when it failed to remove a state treasurer and auditor general involved in a bribery case.
Members of the 7-person bipartisan committee will report their findings and give their recommendations to the full Senate when it comes up for a vote this week, Corman added.
Meanwhile, across the Capitol rotunda, the state House is expected to open an impeachment investigation into the Attorney General on Wednesday. House Resolution 659 was passed by the Judiciary Committee on January 26 with bipartisan support, and is expected to get similar results thanks to House leadership backing when it comes up for a vote, according to committee chairman Ron Marsico.
"We were hoping she'd resign so we didn't have to go through this whole process," said Marsico (R-Dauphin). "Obviously, she's not resigning so we're going to go through this impeachment process."
Wednesday's vote will enable the House Judiciary Committee to open an impeachment investigation. The resolution is a first step in determining if Kane should be impeached. Due to the accessibility of documents needed to investigate Kane, such as Grand Jury proceedings and court hearings, the investigation process may only take weeks, instead of months, Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming) said.
"We're obligated to look into this," Rep. Everett said. "This is not a preconceived notion that we're going to do the investigation and then impeach her. The investigation will take it where it goes."
Pennsylvania has not impeached an elected official since 1993, when Supreme Court Justice Rolf Larson was removed from the bench.
Should the House bring articles of impeachment up against Kane, a public trial in the state Senate would ensue, which would need a two-thirds majority vote to convict and remove her from office.
Kane, who recently said she still plans on seeking re-election as Attorney General, is facing a criminal trial for perjury in Montgomery County in August, and believes the House and Senate should treat her the same way the justice system does.
"She is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law," said her spokesperson Chuck Ardo. "She believes both chambers ought to give her the same rights any other citizen would have."
Rep. Everett, who is on the Judiciary Committee, responded by saying impeachment proceedings do not require convictions in criminal court. "It can be for other conduct that disqualifies you to serve in whatever the office may be," he said.