Kane impeachment process begins in House amid Democrats concerns

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- She survived multiple calls for her resignation. A State Senate hearing which hadn't been used in 125 years couldn't remove her from office, either. Now, Attorney General Kathleen Kane is facing impeachment, but House Democrats question if it's worth their resources.

At the House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing designed to investigate Kane's potential impeachment, Democrats on the panel, as well as those fielding questions from the committee, wondered aloud if the investigation should continue.

Kathleen Kane announced last week she would not seek re-election, ending her term in eight months. She is currently serving as Attorney General with a suspended law license, and is facing a criminal trial for felony perjury in August.

"Things have changed with (Attorney) General Kane not seeking re-election," said committee member Joseph Petrarca (D-Armstrong). "We have an attorney general that has a finite or specific time in office at this point."

At Tuesday's hearing, committee members heard from House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny), and former state Sen. Jeff Piccola (R-Dauphin), who both had a hand in the 1994 impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Rolf Larsen.

Dermody remembered, "We lost a year and a half of our lives in 1994," while both estimated the cost of the Larsen impeachment process to be around $1.5 million strictly for lawyer fees. Each stressed the current House committee would likely have to hire their own legal counsel and interview all witnesses by themselves, rather than rely on court papers, because Kane's criminal trial does not begin until August.

When Rolf Larsen was impeached in October 1994, he had been convicted for criminal conspiracy six months earlier. Dermody questioned if it were wise to run an impeachment investigation in the middle of a criminal trial.

"You're not going to interrupt that process and you're not going to have access to all the information you need," he said. I don't believe the (Montgomery County) District Attorney is going to give that information to the House until he's done with his case."

Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery), who is leading the subcommittee, said following Tuesday's hearing that the investigation would continue. The House voted 170-12 two weeks ago on a resolution to move forward with the impeachment process.

"To turn our backs on an investigation would be akin to putting our heads in the sand," Stephens said. "Until we know what the facts are, it's hard to make a decision on how to proceed."

Rep. Dermody was one of those "Yea" votes in the House, but has concerns moving forward. He questioned both the multi-million dollar cost on taxpayers in the midst of a budget crisis, as well as running an impeachment investigation in the middle of an election season.

"This is a very serious, cumbersome, expensive process, and it should only be engaged when we have to. I'm not so sure we have to."