Molly Ivins once wrote of President Bill Clinton: "I have wasted more time and space defending Clinton than I care to think about. If left to my own devices, I'd spend all my time pointing out that he's weaker than bus-station chili. But the man is so constantly subjected to such hideous and unfair abuse that I wind up standing up for him on the general principle that some fairness should be applied."
That's pretty much how we feel about Attorney General Kathleen Kane at this point.
We can't explain why she claimed to have an affidavit she didn't have. We can't defend it. But the fact remains that Agent Kevin Wevodau did claim in a unsworn memo that Agent Claude Thomas indicated the Philadelphia sting was tainted by racial targeting.
Regardless of what Thomas actually said, there's no denying that race was indeed a factor. Only one of the primary targets of the sting is white, and he has a very strong case that he was targeted because he's criticized the Attorney General's legislative corruption probe.
Certainly, Kane appears to have made a buffoon of herself. But that doesn't automatically mean the sting former Deputy AG Frank Fina's conducted was above-board and by the book. Three other Attorneys General refused to pull the trigger on the case. With no solid prospect of an actual prosecution, Fina rushed to cut a deal with informant Tyron Ali before Kane even was sworn into office.
The filing of charges by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, where Fina now is employed, is far from proof that Kane was wrong not to pursue the charges. So far, D.A. Seth Williams' efforts have yielded a single conviction of conflict of interest, with similar plea bargains likely for the other defendants. In glossing over Ali's credibility problems, Fina's defenders have made much of the "smoking gun" recordings of defendants accepting gifts. What's been ignored is that, while a prosecutor can throw any evidence he chooses before an investigative grand jury (with no objection from a defense attorney), no judge would admit those recordings in a trial without sworn testimony of identification. And the only one who can provide that testimony is Tyron Ali.
Furthermore, Ali handed out "sting" cash to at least one barmaid with whom he was friendly, for her Carribean vacation. That fact alone is solid evidence of how shoddily-supervised the operation was - evidence the grand jury certainly never got to hear.
Even Kane's harshest critics are aware Williams' crusade has noting to do with justice for small-time politicos and their petty grasping. Williams' feud with Kane stems from her exposure of Fina's appallingly shoddy work in the Jerry Sandusky investigation and his dissemination of smutty and offensive emails.
Kane has fired staffers implicated in the email scandal. Former OAG employees who've been exposed - Department of Environmental Protection Secretary E. Christopher Abruzzo, DEP Counsel Glenn Parno, Board of Probation and Parole member Randy Feathers, Lancaster County Assistant DA Rick Sheetz, - have been deemed unfit for public service. Supreme Courth Justice Seamus McCaffery retired in disgrace. Chris Carusone, who also served in Gov. Tom Corbett's cabinet, was forced to resign from his private-sector law firm.
Only Williams, who continues to employ Fina and two other prosecutors implicated - Patrick Blessington and Marc Costanzo - is content to allow men with spectacularly poor judgement to decide the fate of others.