The toothy smile, the trademark hair, the fashionable outfit all came together as Kathleen Kane modeled, preened and posed for the people on Scranton’s Courthouse Square.
A full symphony even played patriotic music as backdrop for her public appearance on that soft evening before the gala Fourth of July fireworks display.
Surrounded by statues signifying glory in battle, Pennsylvania’s embattled attorney general stood her ground in her hometown, seemingly immune to persecution and prosecution.
If she has truly been targeted by Mexican drug cartel gunmen – or gunwomen – as her press spokesman says she is – evidence seemed slim and none that she is in the cross hairs of the banditos.
When you’re attorney general, evidence is everything.
Other than her dour-looking co-worker and twin sister, Ellen, Kane’s only other backup was a young woman who smiled and stood to the side – maybe a cop, maybe not a cop. But even if she hid a Glock somewhere beneath her summer outfit, and even if Kathleen and Ellen were packing as well, they would have been no match for grim cartel assassins.
Maybe unseen snipers had her well-protected from rooftops and windows. Maybe laser death drones looked out for her from above. Maybe her driver, special agent Pat “Rocco” Reese who is now under arrest himself, was disguised as an M-80.
As ludicrous as that sounds, the recent explanation for Kane’s Michael Jackson-like security detail at her recent arraignment on criminal charges is even more unbelievable.
I quickly questioned any justification of burly celebrity bodyguards as soon as I saw photos of the plainclothes gang leading her through a crowd of reporters. I brought up the matter on the radio as soon as I could. And I addressed the issue via email to seasoned press spokesman Chuck Ardo, who once worked for a powerful governor and now – for whatever the reason – works for accused criminal Kane.
Ardo responded that she appeared that day with five agents – one local and four from the Philadelphia area – who accompanied her in and out of the building but did not attend the arraignment. Subsequent news reports detailed the detail with news that they were all salaried and did not receive overtime. But they’re still on the public payroll, and some people believe Kane should have paid for her own guards.
Either way, big men on alert does not explain Ardo’s recent statement to a Pittsburgh reporter about the Mexicans. If what he says is true, why didn’t Kane show up in her hometown with a similar team? What better place than Scranton during a patriotic July 4 celebration for cartel hit men – or hit women – to take out our Kathleen?
The disconnect is too close for comfort.
Again, we have classic Kathleen spitting out a pathologically easy and hopefully acceptable answer to a legitimate question about whether she abused her office – the ongoing story of her public service.
During Kane’s 20 minute-or-so appearance on Courthouse Square, she stood in one place, shook a few hands and did not greet nearly as many people as I expected – one big hug from a woman from her old West Side neighborhood and some pest of a guy hanging around who real security would have walked off to the side and marginalized and that was about it.
But when somebody did point a 21st-century weapon at her – a sleek video camera – she quickly fled, unscathed and unruffled.
Finding solace in a fashionable Scranton restaurant, she took refuge in the cocktail lounge where no sinister señor slurping tequila sours was present.
The only cartel Kane has to worry about is the group of unnamed alleged evil-doers she now blames for her arrest – the gang of masters who have successfully plotted her downfall to protect their own foul behavior. According to Kane, these gangsters are more sinister and ruthless than cartel boss El Chapo and his Sinaloa cholos put together.
And, she alone, stands firm while protecting us from evil.
Yes, she really said that.
Please excuse me for not buying the lie. I’ve been to Mexico, Sinaloa, in fact, and realize that almost nobody there ever heard of Kane. They have their own major problems and Kane is not one of them.
Kane’s next case is to provide evidence that shows how she single-handedly brought pressure on the cartel members and prove that they’re miffed.
Don’t expect facts.
What we can anticipate is Kane trotting out yet another bizarre public statement like the excruciatingly weird explanation she laid on us Wednesday in Harrisburg, where she blamed anybody and everybody but herself for her problems.
Fireworks or no fireworks, in America, it’s always easier to blame the Mexicans.
Steve Corbett is a talk-show host and an investigative reporter at WILK-FM. His show airs from 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays.