Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Porngate scandal continues to roil Pennsylvania politics

“Nothing in Pennsylvania [political] history even comes close to this drama, with the complexity and ongoing nature of this, the potential ramifications and multiple moving parts,” said longtime politics watcher G. Terry Madonna of the ongoing political scandal that's been dubbed "Porngate."

The following piece by Natalie Pompilio,published on December 25 in The Washington Post, updates this tawdry, yet fascinating, story. 

Over the past 15 months, beleaguered Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has released a steady stream of messages retrieved from a state email server that show state officials and employees trading pornographic, racist and misogynistic messages.
There are jokes about rape and sexual assault, photos mocking African Americans and other minorities, and insults leveled at people because of their weight, their sexual orientation or their religion. At least two state Supreme Court justices and numerous officials in the office of the attorney general have been caught in the scandal that has been dubbed “Porngate.”

A small sampling: A photo of a pantsless woman on her knees performing oral sex on a man is captioned “Making your boss happy is your only job.” A picture of a white man fending off two African American men while carrying a bucket of fried chicken reads “BRAVERY At Its Finest.” The sender of the email that shows a group of men engaged in sex included this message to friends, “How friggin gay are you?”
“When you see these emails . . . it’s just a swamp of misogyny, racism, homophobia and white privilege. It taints everybody, especially in the judicial branch,” said Bruce Ledewitz, associate dean of academic affairs and a law professor at Duquesne University School of Law. “Some of these things are really disgusting. You get the impression that every white male office holder in the state is a creep.”
It’s a massive scandal, with a new twist each week, but it has produced little uproar among state residents. Still, those who do pay attention say this epic mess is a disaster for the state’s justice system.

“Nothing in Pennsylvania [political] history even comes close to this drama, with the complexity and ongoing nature of this, the potential ramifications and multiple moving parts,” said longtime politics watcher G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa.
One complicating factor in the sprawling scandal is that it is hard to separate the “creeps” from the heroes.
Kane, the first woman and first Democrat elected to that office, faces a criminal indictment for felony perjury and multiple misdemeanors in an unrelated case for allegedly leaking grand jury information to embarrass a political rival and then lying about it under oath.
The odd result of those criminal charges is that the state’s top law enforcement official has had her law license suspended and is fighting efforts in the state Senate to have her removed from office. Gov. Tom Wolf, also a Democrat, has asked her to resign.
Kane, whose office uncovered these scandalous emails through an unrelated investigation, has long maintained she’s innocent of the charges. She has cast herself as a victim of a powerful, political “old boys network,” angry that she’s shared their darkest emails.

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