Porn Email Scandal Grips Pennsylvania Capitol

/ Source: Associated Press
Image: Gov. Tom Corbett
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, seen here on Nov. 10, 2011, was serving as attorney general when the emails were exchanged.Matt Rourke / AP, file

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HARRISBURG, Pa. - A widening scandal over the exchange of emails containing pornography by current and former members of the attorney general's office has gripped the Pennsylvania Capitol all week. Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court chief justice demanded information on whether any judges were part of the exchanges. Gov. Tom Corbett, who was attorney general when the emails were exchanged, was forced to defend his management of the office as he campaigns for a second term. And on Thursday, two top officials who followed Corbett from the attorney general's office into his gubernatorial administration resigned.

Corbett disclosed the resignations of Environmental Protection Secretary Christopher Abruzzo and Glenn Parno, a top lawyer in the Department of Environmental Protection, in separate announcements hours apart, just as the attorney general's office was releasing copies of their email messages to the governor's office and news organizations. Their departures came a week after Attorney General Kathleen Kane's office identified them as being among eight ex-employees who sent or received hundreds of pornographic images or videos in emails that were discovered during Kane's review of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse prosecution. All eight men, who also include state police Commissioner Frank Noonan, worked under Corbett while he was the state's elected attorney general from 2005 to 2011. Corbett had requested details on the emails in question before determining if the four men employed in his administration should keep their jobs. Kane is a Democrat who took office last year. Corbett, a Republican, is in the closing weeks of an uphill re-election campaign against Democrat Tom Wolf.

A review of the heavily redacted emails revealed an abundance of comments that were sexually suggestive, mostly about photographs that were originally attached to the emails but were not included in the released material. Some of the more than 300 emails that the attorney general's office says Noonan received bore sexually tinged subject lines, such as "Bikini Wax Job." Another message, received by some but not all of the participants, included a slur used against people of Arab descent and others who wear headdresses. Others expressed insensitive remarks about gays.

Image: Gov. Tom Corbett
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, seen here on Nov. 10, 2011, was serving as attorney general when the emails were exchanged.Matt Rourke / AP, file

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