AG Kane probe is a long shot
By Dick Miller
WE CONNECT DOTS: Newly-elected PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane pledged she would find out if Gov. Tom Corbett deliberately slow-walked the probe of convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky. Recently she appointed a special deputy, Geoffrey Moulton, to keep this promise.
Moulton is being paid $72 per hour and working the assignment in with his teaching schedule at Widener University School of Law. Initially, Moulton must depend on voluntary cooperation to establish a base for his investigation.
Corbett’s political opponents contend he did not want the Sandusky probe to go public while he was running for governor. Reactions to the scandal splashing on the late Joe Paterno only intensified PSU loyalists’ anger at Corbett. The Governor, among others, claim Coach Paterno did not properly follow through on complaints about his then assistant coach Sandusky.
The post-election fallout against Corbett could have been pre-election if Sandusky had been indicted earlier. There is little doubt Corbett would have lost thousands of votes.
Then, too, there was the matter of campaign funds. When Sandusky retired from Penn State he founded a charity to help wayward boys. Known as Second Mile, Sandusky populated the board of directors with central PA Republicans who also had strong ties to Penn State. This group accounted for over $600,000 in campaign contributions to Corbett. These donors were not aware of Corbett’s probe of Sandusky when they wrote the checks.
Immediately after Corbett moved into the governor’s mansion he approved a $3 million grant to Second Mile knowing that Sandusky, founder and CEO, was likely headed to jail. Later, after strong public reaction, he withdrew the grant.
Seems damning, but currently this is all political speculation. Moulton needs a smoking gun. Incriminating emails may exist among Attorney General staff. One or more players in the Sandusky probe could see the light and come forward with revelations.
Moulton will need one or more of these “needles” in the Sandusky haystack to advance his investigation to the next step. He cannot get a grand jury convened until he convinces a judge a crime has been committed and compelling testimony of witnesses is necessary.
This is a long shot given the type of people he will be initially questioning. First, until Kane, Republicans held the office of attorney general for 32 consecutive years. Among the department’s 600 employees there are not likely to be a significant number of Corbett-hating attorneys or investigators.
Corbett headed the AG department for six years as an elected official and two years in an acting capacity. He handpicked his successor, Linda Kelly, for the final two years before Kane took office.
Corbett remained hell-bent on controlling the office. Kane defeated the son-in-law of the first elected attorney general, Republican Leroy Zimmerman, last November. David Freed was unopposed in the Republican primary. Corbett chased other aspirants away despite other Republican leaders complaining. This was supposed to give Freed a chance to raise funds and save his best efforts for the fall.
Kane shellacked Reed by 15 percentage points in November. Her pledge to look into the Sandusky matter helped.
Moulten’s second hurdle goes to the type of people he will be questioning.
Agents and attorneys with prosecutorial experience are masters in the art of interviewing witnesses. They know language, deceptions and hesitancies in a witness. They can lie with a straight face.
The odds are high that Moulten will not discover any conclusive evidence that points to Corbett slow-walking.
Moulten comes highly regarded by those who have worked with him.
He served as a Federal prosecutor in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. He co-authored a report entitled “Tapping Officials’ Secrets: the Door to Open Government in Pennsylvania.”
According to the Harrisburg Patriot News using Federal Election campaign reports, Moulten donated a total of $1,000 to Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
Kane’s appointment of Moulten signals one other conclusion. There should be no more arrests at Penn State as a result of Corbett and Kelly’s efforts. Moulton’s inquiry would interfere with an ongoing investigation.