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Fontana Statement on Senate Kane Removal Attempt
On February 10, 2016
HARRISBURG, February 10, 2016 – State Sen. Wayne D. Fontana today provided the following statement on the state Senate’s attempted vote to remove Attorney General Kathleen Kane from office. The senate voted 29 to 19 in favor of recommending Kane’s removal. However, the so-called “Direct Address” removal procedure failed since the action requires a two-thirds Senate vote:
“While I am pleased that the Senate majority was not able to circumvent the Attorney General’s due process rights or nullify the decision of the voters who elected her to office, I am disappointed by the bipartisan nature of today’s vote.”
In opposing this measure, I expressed my reservations about this attempt to remove an individual from office who was elected by the people in a free and open election. The archaic provision majority Republicans attempted to use would have allowed a body of 50 senators to overturn a democratic process that involved more than 3 million of our citizens who elected Kathleen Kane to a four-year term.
My preference is to let the state’s judicial system work. At the very least, the Senate should be willing to first let the impeachment process under way in the House run its course. In our legal system, elected officials — just like everybody else — are entitled to due process under our laws. The attorney general was elected by the people. Absent the indelible conclusion that comes with being convicted, she should only be removed by the people — at the ballot box.
While we can debate the question of whether or not the attorney general can continue to run that office without an active law degree, I have seen no evidence that that the state’s top prosecutorial office in on the brink of collapse because its elected leader has taken a greater administrative role.
Today’s senate action would have used an archaic and almost never-used section of the constitution — to produce a report authored by politicians from an opposing party — to justify the removal of a sitting attorney general who hasn’t been convicted of anything or even had her day in court.
Judging by the today’s partisan vote, there is a clear perception that politics were being used to muscle out due process.
All along I’ve recommended that Attorney General Kane should voluntarily step away from office so she can focus on her charges. But it’s not the senate’s role to decide her fate.
In the end, doing it the way Senate Republicans wanted to proceed wasn’t the right process, wasn’t the right time, and certainly wasn’t the kind of precedent the Senate should be setting.”
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