Kathleen Kane has a few reasons to be bitter.
The former attorney general left prison Wednesday after serving eight months for leaking grand jury information and lying about it during her 2 ½ years in office.
Throughout her trial and sentencing, she maintained that she was being singled out and punished not for this particular legal breach, but for ratting out the old boys’ network throughout her discovery and release of hundreds of scandalous pornographic emails that were being sent and received by state officials via state computer servers. She discovered those emails while reviewing the Jerry Sandusky investigation. Those porn-swapping officials included current and former staffers, as well as two state Supreme Court justices who subsequently left the bench.
The material — outlined in media reports and at least one independent investigatory report — included vile, misogynistic images and messages, including women’s bare breasts and women performing sex acts or in lewd or suggestive poses, as well as an array of racist, puerile jokes.
News stories following Kane’s release generated a batch of lewd, rude, and vulgar online comments. Maybe they were intended to be a reference or homage to her “Porngate” battle, but we doubt it.
In light of the Porngate scandal over which she presided, these references — to Kane’s “rack,” to her “hotness,” to her appearance leaving jail, including tips for how she might improve that appearance and other crude suggestions — represent a cruel poetic injustice.
The day after her release, former Sheriff John Green was sentenced to 5 years in prison for accepting bribes and kickbacks from a friend over nine years. Green’s gross abuse of the public trust went on for years. You can guess how many references were made to his appearance and hairstyle on sentencing: zero.
Kane, a political neophyte, made many mistakes in office. We wonder if one of them was timing. The Porngate scandal broke over 2015 and 2016. In October 2017, the first piece covering the Harvey Weinstein investigation led to a widespread #MeToo movement and heightened sensitivity to and awareness of aggression toward women by men abusing their power.
We can’t help wondering: If Porngate had dropped in the middle of #MeToo, there might have been more intolerance for the contempt and aggression behind the furious exchange of those dirty emails. As it was, much of the response from emailers was defending the “boys will be boys” mentality.
Kane’s release from prison can now serve as a reminder that misogyny is alive and well in the commonwealth. Contempt and hatred for women and minorities have not been eliminated from our government or institutions. Exhibit A is the recent firing of police officers for racist posts. Exhibit B is a June report identifying nearly 600 sexual harassment and workplace misconduct claims reported by Pennsylvania state employees over five years.