If Kathleen Kane becomes the state’s next attorney general, expect things in the state capital to get noisier. Kane – who, if elected, would be the first woman and first Democrat to win the office – said she would take an unconventional approach to tackling a number of issues faced by Pennsylvanians.
“I’m tough, and I don’t give up – and I think that my independence will go a long way,” she said, telling the Tribune that she would go to the floor of the state legislature to argue for or against proposals she felt passionately about, using the office more expansively than her predecessors have.
Citing two recent examples, Kane said she would have spoken out in the legislature, and to the governor, on a bill requiring women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound before an abortion – which has since died in the legislature – and the state’s voter ID law.
The first, she said, violates the constitutional prohibition against unlawful search and seizure; the second a violation of the right to vote.
“I am going to be the check and balance in our government, and that is desperately needed in these times,” said Kane. “We have to have somebody who protects the constitutional rights of people in Pennsylvania.”
At the moment, both houses of the state legislature and the governor’s office are controlled by Republicans.
“Partisan politics is killing us,” she said, adding that her approach would not change regardless of the party in power.
Elected attorneys general are relatively new in Pennsylvania – though the office goes back to 1791, they have been elected, rather than appointed by the governor, only since 1980.
Usually, the race for attorney general goes largely unnoticed. The attorney general is the state’s top law enforcement official. But, because the office has little influence on policy or legislation, voters tend to focus more on legislative and gubernatorial races.
That is not the case this year.
Kane sat down with the Tribune’s editorial board this week to discuss the race, which has at times been rancorous.
“I don’t know whether it’s had a negative impact on me. We’ll have to see when people go to the polls I guess,” she said.
The Scranton native is running against Republican David Freed, in a race that has been punctuated by two notable instances of what Kane calls “lies.”
Speaking of the latest incident, where the GOP ran an ad calling her a hypocrite for her stance against hydraulic fracturing, and falsely saying her husband’s company did business with gas drillers, Kane didn’t mince words.
“It’s a complete lie,” she said. “It’s not a little lie. It’s not a falsehood. It’s not a misrepresentation. It’s a lie.”
In both cases, the Republican groups behind the ads pulled them.
Despite the heated rhetoric from the GOP, Kane was confident she will win.
Once in office, she said she planned to focus on public corruption and crime – specifically gun violence.
“Corruption is killing us,” she said. “It’s destroying trust in our government. We’re getting nothing done because of it. So, cleaning up Harrisburg is one of my main priorities.”
Going down the list, she outlined her position on crime and gun violence.
“We have gun violence that isn’t being curbed at all. It’s going up and not down. That has got to stop. We have to have reasonable gun control measures,” she said. “We can do that as long as you’re not afraid of special interests.”
She also said she would close the Florida loophole, which allows citizens to obtain firearms there who would otherwise be rejected by Pennsylvania standards.
“We don’t have Florida’s problems. Florida shouldn’t dictate what our laws are,” Kane said. “Or, who carries a gun in Pennsylvania.”
She also endorses anti-crime mentoring programs and other efforts to tackle crime.
Kane lives in Clark Summit with her husband and their two sons.
She was assistant district attorney for Lackawanna County from 1995 to 2007. Prior to that, she worked for the Philadelphia law firm of Post & Schell, from 1991 to 1995. Since 2007, she had a job with law firm in Scranton and worked with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.