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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Attorney General Kane releases statement on Commonwealth Court hearing 9/16/2015

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane issued the following statement following today's hearing in Commonwealth Court.

"I stand by my statement made over a month ago: I want the release of all emails covered by the Right To Know Letters (RTKLs). I believe today, as I did then, that their release will better inform the citizens of the Commonwealth as to the actions I have taken in the wake of the Moulton investigation and the actions those involved in this email chain have taken against me.

"But just because I want these emails made public doesn’t mean that I can make them public at this time.

"Some cannot understand why, if I am determined to release all the pornographic and racially/religiously offensive emails, I don’t simply withdraw today's appeal to Commonwealth Court and immediately release all these emails as public records.

"The simple answer is that these emails are currently being shielded by grand jury protective orders issued out of Montgomery and another county (presently upon appeal); protective orders that were designed to shield them and continue to do so to this very day. These protective orders specifically shield two of the email distributors we now know, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s release, who are at the core of this email chain.

"Neither the Supreme Court, in its limited release of emails, nor these issuing courts have ever vacated these protective orders. Judge Carpenter has publicly stated that he would not vacate his protective order in the absence of a motion. These protective orders, which specifically shield the emailers at the core of this email chain from “harassment, intimidation, or retaliation,” has placed my office in an untenable position.

"On the one hand, should I simply withdraw my appeal to Commonwealth Court, agree with the Philadelphia Inquirer that these records are public and, therefore, covered by the RTK law, and release them, in the absence of a ruling by the Commonwealth Court, nothing stops the issuing courts in these counties from enforcing the protective orders against me under the theory that the act of withdrawing our appeal was designed to retaliate against those protected by their orders. On the other hand, should the Commonwealth Court rule that these records are not public, and, therefore, releasable only at my discretion, those same issuing courts could attempt to enforce the protective orders on the same theory of retaliation. I am simply not confident that the very manipulation of grand jury protective orders that continues to shield these individuals and created the framework for criminal charges being filed against me will not place me in jeopardy again should I take either course of action in an attempt to release these emails.

"The Supreme Court has the ability to release their emails without fear of criminal retribution or an attack on their law licenses. I do not.

"While some may find my focus upon these protective orders and the position in which they have placed me with respect to these emails unwarranted, they do not stand in my shoes; they do not understand, as I do, just how these protective orders can be used to try to bully a democratically elected official out of office.

"It is my hope that the Commonwealth Court will move quickly to declare which materials covered by the RTKLs are public records and, to the extent that any are deemed not covered by the RTK law, I will move as quickly as possible to vacate the protection orders with respect to them and make them public.

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