HARRISBURG – Senator Ryan Aument (R-Landisville) today joined 29 Senators in voting to invoke the provisions of Article VI § 7 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania to direct the Governor to remove Attorney General Kathleen Kane from office.
Article VI § 7 provides that:
All civil officers elected by the people, except the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, members of the General Assembly and judges of the courts of record, shall be removed by the Governor for reasonable cause, after due notice and full hearing, on the address of two-thirds of the Senate.
“Our Attorney General, who is the top law enforcement officer in our Commonwealth, cannot discharge the duties of this important office, and therefore must be removed,” said Sen. Aument. “I did not make this vote lightly, but I take seriously my duty as a Senator under our Constitution.”
As a result of a law enforcement investigation that began in 2014, the Attorney General now faces serious felony criminal charges, including perjury, obstruction and abuse of office. Those matters are pending in the judicial system and Ms. Kane has maintained her innocence.
On September 21, 2015, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspended Ms. Kane’s license to practice law for an indefinite period of time, which she subsequently appealed. On February 5, 2016, the Supreme Court denied that appeal and the indefinite suspension to practice law remains.
“The central question that the Senate has reviewed is not whether Ms. Kane is guilty or innocent relative to the criminal charges she faces, as that matter will be decided by the judicial system” said Sen. Aument. “Rather, we have focused on the sole issue of whether, given that she cannot legally practice law in Pennsylvania, she can discharge the duties of her office.”
Sen. Aument noted that the Senate’s review of this matter was exhaustive and fair.
“Ms. Kane was given due notice, was able to present evidence and witnesses, and was provided every opportunity to make her case,” said Sen. Aument. “In the end, based on the testimony provided, the record that was well developed and the facts and law, I found that she is no longer qualified to be our Attorney General and therefore should be removed immediately.”
Under Article VI § 7, if two-thirds of the Senate agree to remove a civil officer for “reasonable cause,” the Governor is then required to remove that civil officer.
Today’s vote on Senate Resolution 284 did not meet the two-thirds requirement.
Notwithstanding today’s vote in the Senate, Article VI § 7 is not the only method the Pennsylvania Constitution provides for the removal of a civil officer.
Under Article VI § 4 of the Constitution, the House of Representatives has the sole power to impeach a civil officer for any misbehavior in office. That process is also currently underway, as the House adopted House Resolution 659 by a vote of 170-12 today, which authorizes the Committee on the Judiciary to examine if there is cause to file articles of impeachment against Ms. Kane.
“People must have confidence in those that are leading our Commonwealth,” said Sen. Aument. “If we ignore problems that we know exist, we not only destroy the solemn trust that people have in their state government, but we neglect our duties to uphold the Constitution we took an oath to obey and defend.”
CONTACT: Jake Smeltz, (717) 787-4420