Penn. Supreme Court releases crude emails state attorney general allegedly used against foes
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane congratulates Governor Tom Wolf following his inauguration ceremony at the State Capitol in Harrisburg, January 20, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Makela

Pennsylvania's highest court on Wednesday unsealed a trove of pornographic emails exchanged by state officials years ago that Attorney General Kathleen Kane said her political enemies wanted to suppress and her foes said she was using to intimidate them.

The emails, consisting of crude jokes and graphics passed among hundreds of people in state government, have formed a subplot in a tangle of investigations stretching over years.

They were released by the state Supreme Court on Wednesday at the request of a judge who had supervised a grand jury that brought perjury charges against Kane. The supervisor, Judge William Carpenter, argued that their release would not comprise the secrecy of the proceedings of that grand jury.

The documents made public on Wednesday also revealed that a special prosecutor investigating Kane in the perjury case had sought a protective order against her a year ago. Thomas Carlucci claimed Kane planned to use the emails to retaliate against witnesses who testified against her to the grand jury.

Kane, a Democrat, has maintained that the perjury charges were politically motivated and intended to keep her from releasing the embarrassing emails. She had uncovered them as part of an unrelated investigation into her Republican predecessor, Tom Corbett, and one of his investigators, Frank Fina.

Fina, one of the state officials who had exchanged the emails, was Corbett's chief investigator in the case against Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach who was eventually jailed for child sexual abuse.

In the perjury case, Kane, 49, is accused of illegally leaking embarrassing information about Fina to a newspaper in 2009 in yet another separate investigation and then lying about it.

Many but not all of the people in state government who exchanged the emails were named by Kane last year. Several former prosecutors in Corbett’s office and Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffrey lost their jobs as a result.

But the emails were never formally released until Wednesday, even though Kane had made them available for viewing on an informal basis.