State Attorney General Kathleen Kane hasn't had the best couple months.
There was that accident that gave her a concussion. And that grand jury appearance on her alleged leak of sealed legal info, at which she showed up with personally-paid-for, high-powered New York and D.C. lawyers.
There were misstatements that had to be clarified. And there are overall questions about her fitness for high office, including a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial last Sunday calling her "Calamity Kane" and asking if she's "in over her head."
Well, now comes a report in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that challenges the strength of what she calls her "central theme," transparency in government.
In a statement prior to appearing before a grand jury last month said to be investigating possible leaks from her office, Kane said, "The publlic has a right to know what public officials are doing or not doing with tax dollars."
Except, it appears, when those tax dollars are used by her office to hire outside legal counsel -- including a Philly firm Kane once worked for (Post & Schell) -- including to review and deny right-to-know requests.
Kane's office has about 180 lawyers.
But the Trib reports Kane paid close to $1.5 million to outside counsel since taking office last year but won't release details on fees paid to all firms and declines to be interviewed on the issue.
The newspaper also says Kane's office calls it's right-to-know request for such details "overly broad." The Trib asked for a list of private lawyers the office has paid.
And, in the you-can't-make-this-up category, Kane paid one outside counsel who denied a Trib request for release of those now-famous porn emails, then hired another outside counsel to handle an appeal filed by the Trib, and the second outside reversed the decision of the first outside counsel and said the emails are public record.
It's not uncommon, in fact it's all too common, for state agencies, the Legislature and the governor to hire private lawyers to do state work. Many cases require specialty lawyers. But any agency head whose "central theme" is transparency should provide the public all details about spending public money.
Kane faces a steep climb to reclaim credibility. This step would be a good place to start.