Pennsylvania Attorney Gen. Kathleen Kane speaks during a news conference at the National Constitution Center, Thursday, July 11, 2013, in Philadelphia.
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

The curse of the state Attorneys General

Earlier this year, it started to look as if state House Speakers were cursed. Over the course of just five months, three state House Speakers weren’t just caught up in scandals; they were actually charged with serious crimes.
This, of course, came on the heels of the Lieutenant Governors’ curse. Just last year, LGs in Florida, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Arkansas, and Texas were each caught up in controversies, some of them ethical, some of them criminal.
And now it appears the curse has reached state Attorneys General. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Philadelphia Inquirer reported this morning:
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman has called an 11 a.m. news conference today in Norristown, at which she is expected to announce criminal charges against Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane.
The Inquirer has learned that after nearly six months of review and fresh investigation, Ms. Ferman has endorsed a grand jury’s recommendation that Ms. Kane be arrested for releasing secret grand jury material in a bid to embarrass a critic and then lying about it under oath, according to people familiar with Ms. Ferman’s decision.
For her part, Kane denies any wrongdoing. Though the Pennsylvania Democrat now expects the indictment, her spokesperson insists she will not resign.
And while the process unfolds, let’s not miss the coincidental pattern. If a controversy surrounding a state A.G. sounds familiar, that’s because Kane is hardly the only one in trouble.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), for example, was charged with a couple of felonies earlier this week.
Meanwhile, two former state Attorneys General in Utah are facing corruption charges, while Colorado’s state A.G. is caught up in a soap-opera controversy in which she’s been accused of extortion.
Just so we’re clear, I realize, of course, that curses don’t actually exist. But when controversies like these cluster together, it’s an interesting coincidence, isn’t it?
As we discussed the other day, in theory, a state Attorney General is the state’s highest ranking law-enforcement official. It’s therefore problematic when a state A.G. – or lately, several – finds himself or herself facing criminal charges.