Pennsylvania’s new attorney general is set to name a special prosecutor in the coming days to investigate Gov. Tom Corbett’s handling of the case, specifically why nearly three years elapsed before criminal charges were brought.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat elected in November, confirmed her plans in an interview here. She suggested that when he was attorney general Mr. Corbett, a Republican, slow-walked the investigation of a longtime football coach at the center of the scandal while campaigning for governor.
Ms. Kane was elected by the largest margin of any candidate on the state ballot last November — even President Obama — and said she had no interest in challenging Mr. Corbett for governor in two years.
In early January, the governor brought a lawsuit to lift the stiff penalties imposed on Penn State by the National Collegiate Athletic Association as a result of the episode.It was filed six months after Mr. Corbett called on Pennsylvanians to accept the punishment, and it was widely viewed as calculated to win support from the legions of alumni who bleed Penn State blue and white. Many Pennsylvania newspaper editorial boards concluded that the action was transparently political.
Mr. Corbett’s approval ratings are historically low for a first-term governor of his state. “I don’t think there’s any doubt” that Mr. Corbett’s handling of the case is “a contributing factor in his poor job performance” in polls, said G. Terry Madonna, who directs the Franklin & Marshall College Poll Mr. Corbett declined to be interviewed for this article. He has denied delaying or mishandling any aspect of the investigation.
Corbett is unpopular, but his tanking job approval ratings could be related to any number of things. Perhaps his blatant, clownish effort to deny millions of people the right to vote in 2012 or his corrupt and failing public school privatization program, a privatization push that is so skewed towards selling charters to the public that it got the attention of even President Obama’s pro-privatization Department of Education. Arne Duncan once called Bobby Jindal’s public school privatization czar “a visionary leader”, so you know Corbett’s plan has got to be completely lobbyist-captured if even for-profit cheerleader Duncan is reluctantly regulating the visionary leaders in PA who cooked the books on charter school test scores.
In any event, Corbett’s prosecutorial role in the Penn State scandal occurred to me after the scandal broke, and the reason it occurred to me was this piece in the NYTimes that was printed in 2011, just days after the situation at Penn State was revealed:
For months, Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania had reason to suspect a sexual abuse scandal was going to explode at Penn State University. He also had no way to talk about it, or to prepare for it.
Mr. Corbett, as state attorney general, had begun an investigation in 2009 into allegations that a former Penn State assistant football coach had abused young boys, and that university officials might have covered up the scandal
“He was upset about the inaction,” said Kevin Harley, who worked with Mr. Corbett in the attorney general’s office and is now his press secretary. “He knew what witnesses were going to the grand jury even though he was running for governor. So then he became governor, and he knew at some point that this day would be coming. He just didn’t know when it would be.”
The whole thing reads like that to me, like a preemptive media defense managed by Corbett’s press secretary and that got me wondering at the time. Probably worth looking at, I think.