HARRISBURG - Gov. Wolf on Tuesday stood by embattled state Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane, saying that despite her looming legal problems, she still can carry out the duties of her office and does not need to resign.
In an interview in the Capitol, Wolf acknowledged that Kane, the first woman and Democrat elected to the office, must work to keep the public's support as she awaits a decision on whether she will face criminal charges. But that doesn't mean she needs to step down, he said.
"I think we ought to let the judicial system play out," said Wolf, leader of the state's Democrats. "We have procedures in place for adjudicating the rights and wrongs . . . and I think we ought to let those procedures play out."
Kane has deflected calls to resign as Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman weighs whether to charge her with perjury, obstruction, contempt of court, and other crimes in the leaking of secret information to a Philadelphia newspaper, allegedly to punish a political rival. A statewide grand jury recommended that Kane be charged.
Kane's attorney and private spokesman, Lanny Davis, said last week that Kane was innocent and the victim of "cowardly" people working behind the scenes to destroy her. Davis has blamed "angry Republican men" who he said are upset at her political ascent and have plotted to bring her down.
The editorial boards of news outlets across the state have urged Kane to resign. She has said she will not.
In such editorials last week, The Inquirer and PennLive/the Harrisburg Patriot-News cited her handling of two major criminal investigations since taking office. In 2013, The Inquirer reported, Kane shut down an undercover sting operation that captured elected Democrats from Philadelphia accepting cash or gifts. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams resurrected the case, charging six people.
Last week, the paper reported that sources and documents indicate Kane also undermined an investigation into a state Gaming Board lawyer with ties to politically connected Scranton billionaire Louis DeNaples. After the case withered, DeNaples contributed $25,000 to Kane's campaign. She later returned the contribution.
In Tuesday's interview, Wolf stressed that he was not a lawyer, but said he believed that Kane, in her time as attorney general, has had to make decisions on some tough cases.
"The extent to which she has done that the right or wrong way will be determined by the court," he said.
He said he had not had any discussions with Kane about her legal problems, and that no one has asked him to speak with her about resigning for the good of the party or the integrity of her office.
"It hasn't happened," Wolf said. "I don't know who would make that call."