Good government activist Gene Stilp filed an ethics complaint Tuesday against Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, contending she has used state resources to aid her private defense against criminal charges.
In his complaint, Stilp, of Harrisburg, is asking the State Ethics Commission to investigate whether Kane has used state "personnel, property and services for personal benefit."
Among other examples, Stilp cites Kane's use last week of the Media Center in the state Capitol - a popular space for elected officials to hold press conferences - to deliver a statement about the criminal case against her. Kane was charged by Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman earlier this month for allegedly leaking secret information to embarrass a political foe - and then lying about it when questioned under oath. Ferman's office also contends Kane deployed aides to spy on the investigation into the leak.
Kane's press conference in the Media Center, said Stilp, did not involve state business. And yet, said Stilp, staffers from the Attorney General's office were used to stage the event, including the office's spokesman, Chuck Ardo.
Ardo, as well as agents from the office, were also with Kane when she turned herself into Montgomery County authorities several days after she was charged, said Stilp.
"This is a conflict of interest," Stilp said Tuesday. "She should reimburse the state for everything."
Reached for comment, Ardo noted that Kane has written a personal check to reimburse the state for the satellite feed, provided by a state agency, that was used during her Media Center press conference. He said elected officials are permitted free use of the room.
Asked whether Kane should have used the space to address a personal matter - in this case, the criminal charges against her - Ardo said: "There is no way to separate Kathleen Kane from the Attorney General. The charges she's facing are personal, but the interest in the case is due to the position she holds and affects the Attorney General's office."
Ardo has also said he refers all questions related to Kane's criminal case to her private attorneys, and does not speak for her on that matter.
The Ethics Commission does not comment on complaints or investigations.
Stilp, a long-time and well-known activist, came out of retirement last week to file a separate complaint against Kane with the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which oversees attorney conduct. He filed the complaint, which seeks to have Kane's law license revoked, after Ferman announced the criminal charges against Kane. Those charges include obstruction of justice, conspiracy and perjury.
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