This year’s race for the Attorney’s General Office may have historical implications for the state and for Governor Corbett. According to the latest Philadelphia Inquirer Poll, Kathleen Kane – a District Attorney from Lackawanna County who tried over 3,000 cases in her career – has opened up a 20 point lead in the race and she is poised to be the first ever female to hold the title “Attorney General” in Pennsylvania and the first Democrat ever elected to the position. In the late 1970’s, the citizens of the Commonwealth passed a constitutional amendment that allowed the Attorney General’s Office – once an appointed gubernatorial cabinet position – to become an elected office and the implications of this constitutional amendment has allowed institutional inertia to flourish because of the stranglehold that the Republicans have had on the office since 1980.
Lately Mrs. Kane has been pounding the drum against Tom Corbett’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky Trial, which 3 years and $650,000 in campaign donations later Sandusky finally landed in a prison cell; and, the latest news in the saga isn’t looking good for the Governor. Last week, Aaron Fisher – also known as Victim One in the Sandusky Trial – released a book, which had a section lambasting Governor Corbett’s handling of the case. In Nixonian fashion, Governor Corbett came out swinging against his critics claiming that they were trying to politicize the event. Earlier in the month before the House broke for a short campaigning period, Pennsylvania House Democrats tried to force a vote on the House floor to call for a federal investigation on Governor Corbett’s handling of the trial. As a former prosecutor, Kathleen Kane has gone on the record during this campaign saying “it never took her 3 years to get a child predator off the streets,” and while I agree with her sentiment that Governor Corbett should be investigated for his role in the possible cover up or the acceptance of “bribes” in the form of political donations from current and former Second Mile board members, there is more than just the Sandusky issue that should warrant an investigation on Governor Tom Corbett.
Since early September, the folks at Rock the Capital have been releasing a series of articles and conducting an ongoing investigation that has been looking into the institutional inertia that has flourished inside the Attorney General’s Office. The Attorney General’s office has been a solid Republican stronghold since the Commonwealth’s constitution was amended in the late 1970’s, and this “Republican monopoly” – the name the independent media outlet has dubbed it – has allowed for corruption and graft to flourish inside one of its little known office’s – the Financial Enforcement Services Office (FES). The role of the FES is to act as the state’s collection agency by collecting delinquent payments from 200 state agencies and the state universities. According to Rock the Capital, the state – at any given time – “handles about around 40,000 cases with receivables ranging from $300 million to $500 million, [and] it collects nearly $70 million a year in back taxes.”[Tom Corbett: Lost Money and Missing Memory Part 1”