Even as Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane prepares to talk for the first time with reporters about the criminal charges against her, one well-known former prosecutor is offering to replace her temporarily if she steps down.
Kane said Monday that she would hold a news conference Wednesday afternoon in Harrisburg. She has said through her lawyer and a spokesman that she is not guilty and has no plans to quit.
But that hasn't stopped talk of replacing her. If she quit, naming an interim attorney general would be up to Gov. Wolf, who wants her out, and on Monday, Philadelphia's Democratic Party chairman, U.S. Rep. Robert Brady, said a would-be replacement contacted him last week: former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham.
Brady said in an interview, "I told her if that was the case" - if Kane steps down - "I would be happy to support [her]. ... She's a tough cookie."
The highest law enforcement officer in the state, Kane was charged last week by Montgomery County authorities with one felony and seven misdemeanor charges for allegedly violating grand-jury secrecy and lying about it under oath. She was arraigned Saturday and is free on $10,000 bail.
Kane's spokesman, Chuck Ardo, said Monday that Kane planned to answer questions at a news conference in the Capitol and not just deliver a statement.
By deciding to speak with reporters, Kane is going against what defense attorneys typically advise their clients: Don't talk.
"I have no idea whether she has checked with her attorneys," Ardo said. "All I know is, she asked me several days ago to organize a news conference."
Kane attorney Ross Kramer said Saturday that Kane was innocent, had no plans to quit her office, and was confident that the facts would vindicate her. "We think that the charges tell only a very small part of the story in this case," Kramer said.
Brady, too, noted that it's up to Kane, adding that everyone is innocent unless proved guilty. But if the attorney general does step down, he said, he would like to see Abraham, 74, fill the role.
"It would be a nice way to cap her career," Brady said.
Abraham was visiting her sister in Canada and could not be reached Monday for comment. Her interest in the post was first reported by the website PoliticsPA.
Abraham was district attorney for 19 years and previously served as a Common Pleas Court judge. She most recently ran for mayor in the May 19 Democratic primary, finishing third in the race that former City Councilman Jim Kenney won.
Since the primary, Abraham has gone back to her work as a lawyer at a private firm.
A source familiar with her actions said Abraham had also called Wolf last week. "She would be the caretaker" until the state post is filled next year by election, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan said Monday, however, that Abraham had not talked with the governor about the matter. "I am positive she has not spoken to the governor," Sheridan said.
He also reiterated what Wolf said last week after the charges were filed: that Kane should step down. Sheridan declined to say whether others had expressed interest in the job if it becomes open.
The Harrisburg Patriot-News has said two names have been mentioned as possible interim appointees: David Barasch, the former U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and Geoffrey Moulton, a former federal prosecutor who led Kane's internal review of the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse investigation, and who is now in Wolf's Office of General Counsel.