HARRISBURG -- After taking aim at Pennsylvania's Democratic attorney general candidate over her alleged work on two sexual assault cases, a national Republican group is revising the critical television ad it's airing in Philadelphia.
The 30-second spot blasts Kathleen Kane, a former Lackawanna County prosecutor, saying that she reached weak plea deals in those local cases.
Ms. Kane's campaign fired back that the ad -- which the Republican State Leadership Committee so far has spent more than $550,000 to air on Philadelphia networks -- is wrong in stating that she prosecuted those particular cases.
They released documents indicating that the 2007 case of Charles Lake, who pleaded guilty to raping an 18-year-old, was handled by another assistant district attorney. Mr. Lake received a stiffer sentence than what prosecutors recommended, which the GOP group said showed her going "soft" against a rapist.
The role of Ms. Kane, who was not married at the time and was using her maiden name Granahan, was limited to signing a document outlining his charges, according to a letter from another Lackawanna County prosecutor involved in the case, Gene Talerico.
The ad also resurrects a dispute from her primary battle against former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy over the number of cases she prosecuted. Ms. Kane stated in her earlier ads that she has prosecuted 3,000 cases, later saying that about two dozen of those went to trial.
In a statement, RSLC president Chris Jankowski said the reference to the case would be replaced with other examples that they believe show misconduct. By Friday evening, the anti-Kane website created by the group, www.wrongforpa.com, still featured the ad, though several references to the Lake case were removed.
"The bottom line is that Kathleen Kane once claimed credit for prosecuting this case and is now taking major steps to distance herself from it," he said. "It is difficult to know the truth with Kane's record, but we will respectfully move on from discussing this particular case and focus on those failures she is not contesting."
In the advertisement, which began airing on Thursday, a teenage girl is shown leaving home. It references the Lake case, and another involving a man who served a six-month sentence for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old at a party and then was charged with two more assaults after his release.
The ad then shows a van pull up next to the scared-looking girl. In the next shot, a shoe is shown on the ground, with the words: "We can't risk our family's safety on Kathleen Kane."
The Republican State Leadership Committee is active in GOP campaigns for attorney general, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and state legislator across the country. The group contributed at least $490,000 to Mr. Corbett's attorney general bid in 2008, according to campaign finance records.
An RSLC official said the group's spending on TV, radio and mailers in this year's attorney general race here is likely to exceed $1 million.
The latest polling in the race, a survey by The Philadelphia Inquirer late last month, showed an 11-point lead for Ms. Kane over Republican Cumberland County District Attorney Dave Freed, with 31 percent undecided.
Tim Kelly, campaign manager for the Freed campaign, did not return calls seeking comment on the ad.
The statewide office currently is held by Linda Kelly, who was appointed in 2011 to serve the remainder of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's second term. She did not seek election.
Harrisburg Bureau Chief Laura Olson: email@example.com or 717-787-4254.