Harrisburg, January 27, 2016 − Senator Art Haywood released the following statement today in connection with the recommendations of the Special Committee on Senate Address:
“The work of the Special Committee on Senate Address has come to an end, as should the removal process in the Senate. The recommendation of the majority of the Special Committee to move forward with the removal process by putting it to a vote of the Senate is simply wrong. Recommending a vote of the Senate without some recommended outcome undermines the entire process.
“First, what if any evidence did the committee obtain that supports removal? The deputies said that most of the work of the Attorney General involves the practice of law. This was contradicted by Attorney General Kane’s Chief of Staff Jonathan Duecker and former Philadelphia District Attorney and Governor Ed Rendell at the January 12 hearing. Specifically, Chief of Staff Duecker and Governor Rendell testified that more than 90 percent of the Attorney General’s responsibilities in office are managerial and policy matters.
“They said, and it makes sense, that the Attorney General is primarily the CEO of an 830-person, multi-office law enforcement operation. The Office of Attorney General indeed goes to court, but has more than 300 lawyers to do so. In fact, we received testimony that two-thirds of the Attorney General’s staff are not lawyers.
“The deputies also predicted an avalanche of litigation challenging the prosecutorial authority of the office. False again. Courts of Common Pleas are routinely ruling that the Office of Attorney General has the authority to prosecute criminals since their powers come from the Commonwealth Attorneys Act not an individual law license of the Attorney General.
“Is the Attorney General practicing law without a license? We have scant, if any, evidence of that before the Special Committee. In fact, the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court would be responsible for that determination and they have not found it to be the case.
“Is having a temporarily suspended law license as Attorney General a violation of the constitution or law? The Attorney General is a lawyer and a member of the bar of the Supreme Court. She meets the requirements of Article 4, Section 5, of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Further, Constitutional and statutory interpretation is the function of the judicial branch not the legislature. If we remove the Attorney General based upon our interpretation of the constitution, we would become the Supreme Senate and ruin the framework for our democracy.
“Second, should the hearing and testimony have been held before the entire Senate? The Special Committee was unable to come to a specific finding on removal based on the evidence in its November 25 Preliminary Report and today. The Senate has been asked to make a decision that the Special Committee could not.
“I urge the Senate not to move forward with the removal process set forth in Article 6, Section 7, The Special Committee did not recommend removal because there’s no evidence to do so. I urge the Senate to take no action with regard to the recommendations of the majority of the Special Committee.”