Left: Attorney General Kathleen Kane enters the courtroom for her criminal trial. Right: Her former political consultant Josh Morrow prepares to testify.

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NORRISTOWN — Kathleen Kane’s former political consultant gave police a series of text messages — ones that show Kane, the Pennsylvania attorney general, had an interest in a story that was soon to appear in the Philadelphia Daily News.

Joshua Morrow, Kane’s one-time confidante, testified today that he conspired with Kane to leak confidential grand jury information to the Daily News in 2014 in order to embarrass Frank Fina, a former attorney in the Office of the Attorney General with whom both Morrow and Kane had beef. He said the two then concocted a lie when they realized they were under grand jury investigation for handing over the documents.

Morrow was granted immunity in the case and Kane, who largely denies her involvement, is facing charges of perjury and abuse of office this week in Montgomery County Court. Earlier today, Morrow described phone calls with Kane in which he said she told him to leak documents about an abandoned 2009 investigation into J. Whyatt Mondesire, the late Philadelphia NAACP leader.

Morrow made a phone call hours after he spoke with Kane and told a friend what she’d asked him to do. That phone call, which was wiretapped in an unrelated investigation, was played in court earlier in the day Thursday. Morrow testified he picked up secret grand jury documents from Adrian King, Kane’s first deputy, in April 2014. Less than two weeks later, Morrow took those documents to Daily News reporter Chris Brennan.

But texts sent between Morrow and Kane showed she was interested in when a story on Mondesire was set to run in the Daily News, and outlined a sense of paranoia — Kane was scared the story would come back to bite her. Morrow testified that Kane was involved in every step of his process of leaking the information to Brennan.

“Every time I talked with Chris [Brennan] about the story,” Morrow said, “I relayed what was said back to Kathleen [Kane].”

On May 5, after Morrow spoke with Brennan about the documents he had leaked to him, he had this conversation via text:

A recreated May 5, 2014 text exchange between political consultant Joshua Morrow (blue) and Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
A recreated May 5, 2014 text exchange between political consultant Joshua Morrow (blue) and Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane. Credit: Billy Penn illustration

On May 12, just a week later, Kane texted Morrow: “Where is my story? I’m dying here while you are drinking.” Then, on May 29, they had this conversation after Morrow spoke again with Brennan two weeks before:

A recreated May 29, 2014 text exchange between political consultant Joshua Morrow (blue) and Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
A recreated May 29, 2014 text exchange between political consultant Joshua Morrow (blue) and Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

Then on June 5, Morrow texted Kane: “Gonna be a bad day for Corbett and company.”

The next day on June 6, a Friday, the Daily News‘ story on the Mondesire investigation ran. Morrow testified he wasn’t happy with it.

“The article wasn’t that great of a written article,” he said. “It didn’t do the job. It was not the equivalent of the sting.” He’s referring to a 2014 Inquirer article about a sting operation abandoned by Kane that ran just a month before Morrow said he leaked the grand jury documents to the Daily News. Kane and Morrow believed Fina leaked the sting operation story to the Inquirer, which served as Kane’s first real experience with bad press.

After a grand jury investigation into who leaked the Mondesire documents began, Morrow and Kane met again on several occasions. The paranoia escalated. Morrow described getting lunch with Kane at the Bellevue in Philadelphia in August when Kane broke the news to him that a grand jury was investigating the Mondesire leak. Before their lunch, Morrow testified he was driven to a parking garage by one of Kane’s drivers and was “wanded” to ensure he wasn’t wearing a wire.

Something similar happened again in October. Kane asked Morrow to meet her in a park in Dunmore, a town near Scranton where Kane was living at the time. Before he could meet with her in the park, Morrow testified Kane’s driver took him to his home, patted him down, took his phone, wallet and keys and wanded him again for a wire. Then, he took him back and Morrow met alone with Kane in a car in the park.

All the while, Morrow said, he and Kane were concocting a lie to tell the grand jury — one that pinned the document leak on King. He testified that they recited over and over again that Kane never saw the documents. And Morrow went along with that for some time.

Now, Morrow has immunity in the case. And he says that after several tries, he’s finally being truthful.

[youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYgY1tEO0iw”]

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Anna Orso was a reporter/curator at Billy Penn from 2014 to 2017.