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Corbett Faces Special Prosecutor Examining Sandusky Case

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane will appoint a special prosecutor to investigate how Governor Tom Corbett handled the Pennsylvania State University child sex abuse case.

“The office will conduct a timely investigation that leaves no stone unturned,” Kane, a 46-year-old Democrat, said today in an e-mailed statement. The findings will be made public, she said.

Corbett, a Republican, was attorney general in 2009 when he started a probe of Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach. Corbett was elected governor in 2010, and last year Sandusky was convicted of molesting eight boys.

Corbett, 63, hasn’t been contacted by anyone from Kane’s office regarding the probe, a spokesman said.

“The governor is happy to speak with Kathleen Kane and everyone else from her office,” Kevin Harley said in a telephone interview. “He did nothing wrong.”

The special prosecutor, reported earlier by the New York Times, will arrive as Corbett embarks on an ambitious agenda ahead of re-election.

Sudden Action

This week Corbett announced plans to sell the state’s wholesale and retail liquor operations, a move opposed by unions and Democrats. He told Bloomberg News yesterday he will discuss changes to pensions during his budget speech Feb. 5.

Kane’s investigation is Corbett’s “sword of Damocles,” said Ryan Shafik, founder of Rockwood Strategies, a Harrisburg consulting firm that works with Republican candidates.

“A lot of the legislators are wary to embrace the governor, because they view his political capital as almost gone,” Shafik said by telephone.

In a Quinnipiac University poll released Jan. 29, 42 percent of Pennsylvania voters disapproved of Corbett’s performance and half said he didn’t deserve re-election in 2014. Corbett has “no strong base of support” in income, age or regional group, according to the survey from the Hamden, Connecticut school.

Corbett isn’t standing idly by. After two years of “unpopular” budget cuts, he’s “being more aggressive putting an agenda in place,” said Thomas Baldino, who teaches politics at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre.

NCAA Suit

On Jan. 2, Corbett sued the National Collegiate Athletic Association for its penalties on Penn State in the Sandusky case. On Jan. 17, he awarded a contract to the operator of Britain’s National Lottery to take over the state lottery. Less than two weeks later, Corbett announced his plan to sell the liquor system.

Kane’s investigation is the most recent fallout from a case that transfixed the state and nation.

Sandusky, 69, was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison for the molestation, which occurred over 15 years. The affair led to the firings of Penn State President Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno, who headed the football program for 46 years.

Kane made reviewing the handling of the case a key issue in her campaign last year to become the state’s top law enforcement officer. Her office said today that an attorney general “has the authority as well as an obligation to ensure that we are protecting our children the best we can.”

According to Kane’s statement, investigators will ask: “Why did it take 33 months to get Sandusky off the streets? Was the use of a grand jury the right decision? Why were there so few resources dedicated to the investigation?”

The probe “will be a thorough investigation that looks at the entire handling of the investigation,” said Kane’s spokeswoman, Ellen Mellody.

To contact the reporters on this story: Phil Milford in Wilmington, Delaware, at pmilford@bloomberg.net; Romy Varghese in Philadelphia at rvarghese8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net; Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net

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