Philly Dem D.A. Slams Penn. Democrat Attorney General Over Accusations of Racism, Ethical Issues in Investigation of Corrupt Philly Democrats

rufus seth williamsLast weekend, the Philadelphia Inquirer

broke the story
of a three-year investigation into corrupt
politicians the paper’s sources alleged was shut down by
Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Kathleen Kane a Democrat elected
in 2012. The investigation started in 2010 under Republican
attorney general Tom Corbett, who was elected governor of
Pennsylvania that year and whose term was finished by two other

Kane defended her decision, saying the investigation (which
netted five black Democrats from Philadelphia) was
by racism and serious ethical issues, including the
reliance on a main witness who got a deal for other government
fraud charges in exchange for wearing a wire while doing business
with Pennsylvania politicians. Kane said the investigation was

by her Republican predecessors, that a Republican
district attorney agreed with her determination, and that the
closed investigation was publicized in an effort by an “old boys
club” out to get there. She showed up to the offices of the
Inquirer to answer questions flanked by a “personal
attorney,” and answered no questions herself.

Kane’s accusations, which implicate a slew of prosecutors still
working in the state of Pennsylvania, have not been taken lightly.
Philadelphia’s district attorney, Democrat R. Seth Williams, took
to the op-ed pages of the Inquirer, behind a pay wall, to respond
to what he called Kane’s “escalating excuses for her refusal to
pursue evidence of political corruption” and the way “she publicly
attacked respected career prosecutors and investigators in a
desperate attempt to absolve herself.”

Williams, who pointed out he’s the first and only African
American elected to be a prosecutor in Pennsylvania, began by
addressing the “explosive charges of racism Kane has bandied
about,” writing that he’s seen racism and it had nothing to do with
the investigation, in which members of his office had participated.
To that point, Williams stressed that Kane didn’t bring accusations
of “serious ethical and legal issues” to members of her office now
working for the DA when she alleged she became aware of them,
months ago.

He also called the supposed vendetta against her by career
prosecutors a “conspiracy theory advanced by the attorney general,”
saying he believed the prosecutors involved didn’t leak the details
to the Inquirer, something both the prosecutors and the
reporters told him. Williams also wrote that the investigation into
the corrupt Democrats was handed over to federal authorities, who
hadn’t made a determination on the case. So, Williams wrote, Kane
didn’t have a difficult decision to make; she could’ve left it in
the hands of the feds. Instead, according to Williams, she
requested the files back from the feds, and then shut down the

Williams also called into question Kane’s
contention that she couldn’t prosecute the case:  “In other
words, she apparently has electronic recordings of numerous elected
officials taking while promising their votes – and she has to let
them off scot-free because she would be incapable of convincing a
jury of their guilt?”

Williams noted that prosecutors build cases around the testimony
of “very bad men” all the time, even murderers, while Kane claims
she can’t build a case because “the main witness got a deal on a
bunch of government fraud charges.”

“You don’t have to be a prosecutor to know this is how it’s
done,” Williams wrote, comparing prosecuting political corruption
to going after major drug distributors and organized crime
syndicates, each requiring “someone on the inside, someone who has
been part of the enterprise, to give evidence in exchange for
favorable treatment.” Kane’s behavior, then undermines all cases,
according to Williams, by calling into question the use of
witnesses who have turned state’s evidence.

Frank Fina, one of the prosecutors who worked on the
investigation in the attorney general’s office but is now with the
Philadelphia DA’s office, also wrote an op-ed in the
Inquirer. He took issue with Kane arriving at the
Inquirer’s office to answer questions accompanied by an attorney
 who advised her to remain silent. “I have been a lawyer for
22 years, and a public servant for almost all of that time,” Fina
writes. “I have not retained an attorney to advise me to speak, or
to remain silent. I am an attorney.” Fina insisted he and
his colleagues worked on the investigation “honestly, ably, and
with integrity,” and offered to join Kane and Inquirer
reporters to answer any questions they have about the
investigation, something he said he wouldn’t object to being

Kane’s assistant press secretary still hasn’t responded to our

follow up questions

from Hit & Run

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