Attorney General Kathleen Kane said Wednesday that she has hired former Gov. Ed Rendell's spokesman to help get her message out amid her legal problems and newspaper editorials calling for her resignation.
Chuck Ardo began work Wednesday as the seventh spokesperson to work for Kane since she took office in January 2013. His initial six-month contract provides $60,000 in salary but no benefits.
"Although we've accomplished a great deal, our accomplishments haven't been widely recognized," Kane said in announcing several staff changes. "Chuck is well-known throughout the commonwealth as a tell-it-like-it-is professional who will help us get our message out."
Ardo said Kane, whose 2012 victory made her the first woman and the first Democrat to be elected attorney general, called him about the job last week and they discussed his hiring over the weekend. He acknowledged that he faces a steep learning curve.
"I'm inheriting a semi-crisis situation here so catching up with all the facts is a challenge," he said.
A grand jury that investigated the leak of secret material to a newspaper has recommended that Kane be charged with perjury and other crimes. Kane has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Any charges are up to Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, who is reviewing the case.
On Monday, Kane and Thomas Carluccio, the special prosecutor in the grand jury investigation, are to appear before a three-judge panel that will decide whether her firing of a prosecutor who testified before the panel violated the supervising judge's 7-month-old order not to retaliate against witnesses.
If the panel decides the order was violated, a separate hearing would be held to determine whether to impose a contempt of court punishment.
Kane has said the prosecutor, James Barker, was fired as part of an internal restructuring of her office. Barker, who has not publicly disclosed his testimony, said he was given no reason for his firing.
A contempt conviction would trigger a disciplinary process that could endanger a lawyer's law license. In Kane's case, the loss of her license would render her unqualified to hold the office.
Kane also announced the appointment of a new chief of staff, Chuck Duecker, who was previously the special agent in charge of the attorney general's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation.
Deucker will be succeeded as head of the narcotics bureau by Barbara Connelly-Sessamen, who had been the bureau's agent in charge of the Erie region.