HARRISBURG - State Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane, who has castigated prosecutors, judges, and others for exchanging offensive emails, failed to disclose that her twin sister - a top prosecutor on her staff - sent and received emails that mocked African Americans and Asians, joked about domestic abuse, and included photos of scantily clad men and women.
Kane made public her sister's emails late Wednesday after coming under pressure from a Philadelphia prosecutor, who asserted that Kane's sister had sent or received 58 troubling emails - and Kane herself had received 11.
The 49-year-old Democrat and her sister, Ellen Granahan, who heads the office's child predator unit, responded later in a joint statement in which they called the prosecutor's remarks "false and defamatory."
Kane's spokesman, Chuck Ardo, said the Granahan emails were not offensive and had not warranted any discipline. Kane has disciplined more than 60 members of her staff, including seven prosecutors, for exchanging offensive digital messages.
The dozens of emails Kane made public Wednesday included several with the types of jokes she has singled out for criticism when contained in emails sent or received by others.
One included a photograph of a smiling woman with a black eye and a bruised lip, with the caption: "Domestic violence - because sometimes, you have to tell her more than once."
Another was a picture of a black toddler wearing gold jewelry and clutching $100 bills.
A "joke" about illegal immigrants, saying "millions . . . come in" but "only one bastard actually works!"
While the Granahan emails contained no pornography, several included racy pictures of men and women. One showed a naked man and joked about the size of his penis.
In their statement, Kane and Granahan, who joined the office several years before Kane was elected in 2012, said the Attorney General's Office reviewed Granahan's messages last year and found "no pornographic or offensive emails."
The statement said Granahan had forwarded to her sister only one email and did so in 2009, four years before Kane became attorney general.
That email, with the subject "pictures taken at exactly the wrong time," contained 10 photographs depicting embarrassing moments. One showed a still from a news report in which the broadcaster resembled the sketch of a rape suspect shown on screen.
In other messages sent or received by Granahan, the punch lines found humor in lesbian sex, in obese or anorexic women, and in Michael Jackson's alleged pedophilia. In all, Kane's office made public 57 Granahan emails sent or received between spring 2009 and fall 2012.
Kane's office made Granahan's messages public hours after the conclusion of a hearing in Harrisburg at which State Rep. Louise Williams Bishop (D., Phila.) pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count related to the sting and resigned her office.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams resurrected that investigation - in which an undercover operative made cash payments to Democratic elected officials from Philadelphia - after Kane rejected it as weak and possibly tainted by racial targeting.
After the hearing, Special Assistant District Attorney Mark Gilson suggested that reporters question Kane about Granahan's emails.
"What about those emails?" Gilson asked shortly after the court hearing for Bishop. "Every one of those emails has to be released."
He did not describe the emails or detail how the District Attorney's Office learned of them.
The release of Granahan's emails could prove troublesome for Kane, who has made public emails of others that contained pornography and other offensive content. She has said the emails, exchanged on state computers and captured on her office servers, reveal a criminal justice system marred by biases and threatened by too-cozy relationships.
Kane has spent months assailing what she has called "a network" of prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys, and others who for years shared "misogynistic and racist" emails.
So far, the scandal has cost the jobs of more than a half-dozen people, including a Supreme Court justice who quickly retired once he was linked to pornographic emails. Another justice, J. Michael Eakin, is facing misconduct charges in connection with his emails.
This month, Kane announced that she had hired a special prosecutor from out of state to review the messages and determine whether any laws were broken.
Though dozens of people exchanged the emails, Kane has focused her recent criticism on three prosecutors who now work for Williams: Frank Fina, E. Marc Costanzo, and Patrick Blessington.
Women's groups and elected officials from Philadelphia have called on Williams to fire the three men. Kane has said in court papers that she believes Fina and Costanzo should lose their jobs.
While Kane has released dozens of emails over the last year, she has refused to make them all public.
She has also refused to name all of those involved, save for a handful of the employees she disciplined.
Williams has called on Kane to release all the emails.
His chief of staff, Kathleen Martin, said, "This evening's release of emails sent by Ellen Granahan proves the very point that District Attorney Williams has been making for weeks - release of all emails in Kane's possession is long overdue."
Fina and Kane have been locked in an ugly public feud for several years, and Kane has been criticized for selectively releasing messages to embarrass him and others whom she considers enemies.
Kane has acknowledged that more than 60 members of her staff, including at least eight serving prosecutors, took part in the exchanges of offensive emails. In most cases, the staffers faced punishments ranging from warnings to suspensions.
She fired four aides, saying they had continued to exchange offensive emails after they had been warned to stop.
Granahan joined the Attorney General's Office in 2008, when it was run by Tom Corbett, a Republican. Four months after Kane took office in 2013, she promoted her sister to the post of chief deputy attorney general, in charge of the child predator unit. It was a promotion that included a 20 percent raise. She is paid $88,509.
She was previously a prosecutor in the Lackawanna County District Attorney's Office.