Opening Statement, Michael Bekesha
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Opening Statement Michael Bekesha Judicial Watch, Inc. Public Hearing the House State Government Committee concerning the misbehavior office Kathleen Kane, Attorney General Pennsylvania Good morning. Im Michael Bekesha, attorney Judicial Watch. Judicial Watch Washington, D.C.-based educational foundation dedicated promoting transparency, integrity, and accountability government and fidelity the rule law. Thank you, Chairman Metcalfe, for inviting here today. Although always honor for me, behalf Judicial Watch, appear before this Committee, also comes with mixed emotions. Last time was here, about three years ago, testified behalf your National Security Begins Home legislative package. that time, saddened report that the federal government had decided not enforce immigration law. However, you and your colleagues sought protect the citizens this Commonwealth even though the President refused so. thank you for that. Today, here testify about another public official who refuses uphold her constitutional and statutory duties. However, this time, the federal government not fault. Although could spend hours talking about how President Obama and his cabinet continue disregard their oaths and cause complications the Commonwealth Court Pennsylvania recently described here discuss public official who was directly elected the people Pennsylvania and who was sworn office little over one year ago. January 15, 2013, Attorney General Kathleen Kane placed her hand the Bible and stated: solemnly swear that will support, obey and defend the Constitution the United States and the Constitution this Commonwealth and that will discharge the duties office with fidelity. Although she placed her hand the Bible and recited this oath, she apparently did not mean it. She must have had her fingers crossed because less than months later, she openly defied her most important duty Attorney General: upholding and defending the duly enacted laws this Commonwealth. Before discuss how the Attorney General failed the people Pennsylvania and harmed the Commonwealth the process, will briefly address the Attorney Generals duties, what they mean, and why they are place. full, Section 204(a)(3) the Commonwealth Attorneys Act states: shall the duty the Attorney General uphold and defend the constitutionality all statutes prevent the suspension abrogation the absence controlling decision court competent jurisdiction. What this means, plain English, that the Attorney General cannot decide which laws she wants uphold and defend. She must uphold all laws enacted the Legislature. Importantly, you not need take word for it. 1973, Hetherington McHale, seven judges the Commonwealth Court Pennsylvania stated unequivocal terms: [T]he Attorney General without statutory authority implement his opinion constitutionality. The only branch government that has the power declare the law unconstitutional the Judiciary. The Court further stated that the Attorney General had the power suspend statute declaring unconstitutional, he would seriously evade and encroach upon this area judicial responsibility and possess effective veto over legislation greater than that enjoyed the Governor. The Court therefore concluded that the Attorney General without power authority, even though the opinion that statute unconstitutional, implement his opinion such manner effectively abrogate suspend such statute which presumptively constitutional until declared otherwise the Judiciary. The rationale for this conclusion the basic principle separation powers, which first appeared Pennsylvania early 1776. 1938, the Supreme Court Pennsylvania, Dauphin County Grand Jury Investigation Proceedings (No. 2), explained: [W]hen the constitution 1873 was adopted, the people acted the light generations experience with the operation the doctrine the separation powers, and with the resulting necessity for judicial review resolve differences opinion between the legislative, executive judicial departments concerning the scope and extent the delegated powers. Not only were the people then familiar with the exercise from time time the court the power declare legislation unconstitutional, and also restrain unauthorized executive acts, but from then until now, though the constitution has been frequently amended, effective effort has been made change take away that power; definitely settled that reference precedents unnecessary. James Madison warned Federalist 47, The accumulation all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, the same hands, whether one, few, many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, elective, may justly pronounced the very definition tyranny. Attorney General Kanes announcement July 11, 2013 makes clear that she believes that she has the authority create, enforce, and interpret the law. Attorney General Kanes view, Pennsylvania tyranny one, not democracy. This because Attorney General Kane declared duly enacted Pennsylvania law unconstitutional and announced that she would not uphold and defend it. Although her action itself may not have been the suspension the law, the result her declaration was just that. Less than two weeks after her announcement, the Montgomery County Register Wills Bruce Hanes stated that was prepared violate the law based on, part, the Attorney Generals belief that Pennsylvanias marriage laws are unconstitutional. Now, the Attorney General and others argue that because the Office the General Counsel defending the law Court, no harm, foul. They are probably correct that better that Attorney General Kane not defend law she, based nothing but her own her own analysis, does not believe constitutional. However, that viewpoint misses the forest for the trees. Kathleen Kane ran for, and was elected to, Attorney General the Commonwealth Pennsylvania. she wanted only uphold and defend some laws, she should not have run for Attorney General. Or, minimum, she should have had been transparent enough campaign the slogan, I will uphold and defend the laws this Commonwealth when want to. The people then could have made choice between candidate who would take her oath seriously and fight for Pennsylvania and candidate who only wanted play Attorney General television. clear, Kathleen Kane plays Attorney General T.V. say that because when she decided that the law was unconstitutional, she held press conference. She created media circus. she sincerely believed that the Commonwealth was enforcing unconstitutional law, she could have taken one two permissible and legitimate actions. the Commonwealth Court explained 1973, If the Attorney General his opinion believes that statute unconstitutional, has the right and indeed the duty either cause initiated action the courts this Commonwealth and thus obtain judicial determination the issue may prepare, for submission the General Assembly, such revision the statute may deem advisable. Surely, the Attorney General knew she had these options. Instead doing what was right, she went T.V. Sadly, this not the only time that Attorney General Kane has taken action that diminishes her office. January 2014, the State Ethics Commission concluded that the promotion the Attorney Generals sister Chief Deputy Attorney General Child Predator Section created perception that the promotion [her] sister was not free from [her] influence. Again, the Attorney General and others could argue no harm, foul. But know that not true. The process important, not more important than, the results. lawyers and judges regularly say, just the appearance impropriety misbehavior damages the office. Whether was technically illegal unethical irrelevant. Her actions show the people Pennsylvania how little she thinks them and the office they elected her serve. believe that another witness will testify about the Attorney Generals attack the peoples Second Amendment rights. just briefly want say that based records received Judicial Watch from the Office the Mayor New York, Attorney General Kane, shortly before taking office, received Gun Policy Memo from then-Mayor Bloombergs Mayors Against Illegal Guns group. One can only wonder who and what money influencing her decisions concerning the Second Amendment. Then, have Attorney General Kanes decision not prosecute certain elected officials for allegedly accepting cash and other gifts exchange for voting no the Pennsylvania Voter bill that passed 2012. know for fact that colleague Christian Adams will testifying more how the Attorney General has ignored her prosecutorial responsibilities imposed Section 205 the Commonwealth Attorneys Act. However, this action most bothersome personally because was here, three years ago, testifying before this committee, support that bill. the time, had idea that the opposition may have been receiving cash and jewelry. disappointing learn that the process was corrupted. And nothing being done about it. Unfortunately, there second part this story. And more troubling than the first. After the Philadelphia Inquirer broke the story, Attorney General Kane, her individual capacity, hired attorney defend her decision not prosecute these elected officials. March 22, 2014, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Office the Attorney General set meeting with the newspaper discuss its story disclosing the corruption investigation and the Attorney Generals decision stop it. When Attorney General Kane arrived the meeting, she was accompanied attorneys Richard and Thomas Sprague. According the Inquirer, Sprague said would launch investigation into the conduct the prosecutors who ran that sting operation. Also, Attorney General Kane indicated the Inquirer that she hired Sprague represent her possible defamation suits arising from the Inquirers story. Because the Office the Attorney General set the meeting and Sprague stated that was going investigate the conduct the prosecutors, Judicial Watch assumed that the Attorney General, her official capacity, had hired the attorneys. Judicial Watch therefore sent records request the Office the Attorney General under the Pennsylvanias Right-to-Know Law. Just last week, received the following response: search for agency agreements and/or contracts retain the legal services Richard Sprague and/or the Law Offices Sprague Sprague was conducted and has been determined that written agreements and/or contracts between the Office Attorney General and/or Attorney General Kane and Richard Sprague and/or the Law Offices Sprague Sprague not exist records this agency. The Office Attorney General also responded: [R]ecords any and all communications between the Office the Attorney General and/or Attorney General Kathleen Kane and Richard Sprague and/or the Law Offices Sprague Sprague relating the above-referenced matter not exist records this agency. short, Kathleen Kane hired the attorneys her personal capacity. Yet, she giving them access records the Office the Attorney General. Apparently, Attorney General Kane has little respect for her office and the people Pennsylvania. have gone for while now. Attorney General Kane lawless. quote U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfuter, If one man can allowed determine for himself what law, every man can. That means first chaos, then tyranny. Thank you Chairman Metcalfe and your colleagues for continuing the fight for the rule law and for amending House Resolution 578.