Pennsylvania attorney general's aide concerned by license suspension

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane congratulates Governor Tom Wolf following his inauguration ceremony at the State Capitol in Harrisburg, January 20, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Makela (Reuters)

By David DeKok

HARRISBURG, Pa., (Reuters) (Reuters) - A senior deputy of embattled Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane told a state Senate panel on Wednesday that the suspension of her law license could lead to mounting legal challenges to prosecutions by her office.

Kane had her license suspended by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court after being charged this summer with illegally leaking grand jury information to a reporter to embarrass a rival and lying about it to another grand jury.

Bruce Beemer, the first deputy attorney general, said he believed the office was operating legally even though the state constitution requires the attorney general to hold a law licenses.

Even so, he said he was concerned that defense attorneys would file numerous court challenges to Kane's authority to bring charges against their clients.

“We can say we have the authority and move forward, but that doesn’t stop people from trying to test us,” he said. “None of us like to think where the crescendo will be.”

The special Senate panel, which has four Republicans and three Democrats, has held three hearings to determine whether Kane can do her job without a law license.

Beemer said he also was worried about protecting the staff of the 700-employee office from inadvertently committing illegal or unethical acts because Kane’s license is suspended.

He said he had searched for a similar situation in other states but found none, admitting the office was on untested legal ground.

The Democratic attorney general has blamed her legal woes on conservative prosecutors employed by her Republican predecessors, many of them involved in the investigation and prosecution of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach convicted of child sex abuse.

(Editing By Frank McGurty and Cynthia Osterman)