HARRISBURG - State Attorney General Kathleen Kane will not make public e-mails of current and former state employees that purportedly contain pornographic images, jokes, cartoons, and other private messages, her office said Tuesday.

Responding to an Inquirer request for the emails under the state's Right-to-Know law, the office said it had determined the material does not fall under the law's definition of a public record. But the denial also included a disclosure that the office had undertaken an "ongoing internal investigation" regarding those emails and that they may be relevant "to investigations of violations of agency policy and the appropriate use of agency equipment."

The letter did not elaborate, but a source familiar with the matter said investigators have discovered the list of people who at some point were getting the possibly inappropriate emails includes 30 current employees at the Attorney General's Office.

Renee Martin, a spokeswoman for Kane, declined comment.

Kane's decision came after a state judge lifted a stay last week that had prevented the attorney general from even deciding whether to release the material, which was discovered during her review of her predecessors' handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual-abuse case.

Several news organizations, including The Inquirer, have asked to see the e-mails.

The Inquirer has reported that the e-mails circulated among scores of officials, from homicide investigators in the Attorney General's Office to state prosecutors and other officials, as well as top Pennsylvania jurists.

The materials circulated between 2009 and 2011, when the office was handling some of its biggest investigations, including that of Sandusky and several public corruption investigations involving the misuse of state resources for political gain.

Gov. Corbett, a Republican, was attorney general until early 2011. He was succeeded by Linda Kelly, also a Republican. Kane is a Democrat.

There is no indication that Corbett received or was aware of the e-mail exchanges, according to people familiar with the matter, and the governor has said he learned about them only in recent months. was unaware of them until did not know about the e-mails when he ran the Attorney General's office.