Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane won't step down, her spokesman said Friday after fresh allegations of misconduct stirred calls for her resignation and another key aide left her office.
Lanny Davis, Kane's private publicist and lawyer, said the embattled prosecutor is innocent and the victim of "cowardly," anonymous people who are out to destroy her career.
"She hasn't even been indicted, much less convicted, and yet people are asking for her resignation based on purely anonymous accusations," Davis said. "The presumption of innocence is fundamental in our system of justice."
His comments capped a week that brought a stream of new attention on the state's top law enforcement official.
On Tuesday, the state Supreme Court rejected Kane's contention that a special prosecutor lacked authority to investigate her for allegedly leaking confidential materials. A grand jury in that case has recommended that Kane be charged with perjury, obstruction, and other counts, and the Montgomery County district attorney has said she is weighing whether to proceed.
On Thursday, The Inquirer reported that after taking office in 2013, Kane revoked subpoenas issued to two potential witnesses in a probe of a former state gaming official suspected of feeding information to Louis S. DeNaples, a politically connected Scranton businessman and Kane campaign contributor who was trying to get a casino license.
Sources and records indicated that Kane's action effectively undermined the case. No charges were brought.
The disclosure paralleled last year's report that Kane, a Democrat elected in 2012, had shut down an undercover sting operation that caught Democratic officials in Philadelphia pocketing cash or gifts. Six of those targets have since been charged by city prosecutors.
In a statement Friday, Davis called the report on the DeNaples case "another chapter in what is now clearly a systematic effort by cowardly, anonymous people who aim to destroy Kathleen Kane's political career by whispering to reporters, in the dead of night, lies and smears that can't be responded to, largely based on protected grand jury investigation material, all in the name of accusing her of leaking grand jury material. The vendetta against her by this group will most certainly backfire once all the facts come out." He would not elaborate.
On Friday, the editorial boards for two of the state's largest news outlets, The Inquirer and PennLive-the Harrisburg Patriot-News, called on Kane to resign, arguing that she is too mired in controversy to serve.
"Kane cannot help but be hopelessly distracted as she tries to fend off those criminal charges and defend her questionable overall record in the court of public opinion," the Patriot-News editorial said. "And the worst is yet to come."
Also Friday, Kane's chief of staff, Blake Rutherford, informed friends and colleagues that it was his last day on the job. He'd been there less than four months.
Rutherford said he is headed to the high-powered Philadelphia law firm Cozen O'Connor and its lobbying arm Cozen O'Connor Public Strategies.
"While I will miss working alongside each of you, I am excited about what this new chapter holds for me and my family," Rutherford wrote in an e-mail.
It continued: "I want to express my appreciation to Attorney General Kane for providing me with this opportunity and to all of you for your work on behalf of the people of Pennsylvania. It has been a privilege to serve, and I wish you the very best."
Reached by The Inquirer, Rutherford declined to say when or why he decided to quit.
He had previously served in the same role to the Arkansas attorney general. Rutherford's wife, Jessica Dean, is a news anchor at CBS3.
Kane's spokesman said Rutherford left the office for an offer that "is better for his future."
"He tells me this is all good, all positive, and Blake leaves on the best of terms," Davis said.
Kane's newest director of communications, Aaron Sadler, quit in early March. Like Rutherford, he had been lured to the job after serving in a similar post in Arkansas. Sadler was the fourth person to serve as Kane's top communications staffer in about two years.