NORRISTOWN — Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s former political consultant said he conspired with her to leak secret grand jury documents and then concocted a lie with her to cover it up. And there’s a recorded phone call to back it up.
The bombshell testimony came this morning from Joshua Morrow, the man who leaked secret grand jury documents to a Philadelphia Daily News reporter, he says, at the behest of Kane, who was his former boss and a close friend. Kane, who faces charges of perjury and abuse of office, has said that she never told anyone to leak documents to the press.
It was the end of April when Kane called Morrow, and he testified that she told him to call Adrian King, Kane’s first deputy, because he had some documents related to an abandoned 2009 investigation that they wanted leaked to a reporter. That investigation was into J. Whyatt Mondesire, the former NAACP leader in Philadelphia. And the probe was led by Frank Fina — a former attorney with the Office of the Attorney General whom Kane had been feuding with.
Morrow testified that he spoke briefly with Kane and she told him exactly what the documents were: A memo about the abandoned investigation into Mondesire and a transcript of a conversation between two agents about why the probe was halted.
“I asked her what it was,” Morrow testified, “and she described the transcript from one of her agents to another agent about an investigation into Jerry Mondesire and it was a finances. And that Frank Fina did the investigation and then shut it down.”
So he listened to Kane and placed a call to King later that night. The two agreed Morrow would pick up an envelope that King would leave for him in between his front door and his storm door the next morning. Morrow picked up the documents, redacted them and then leaked them to Daily News reporter Chris Brennan.
But before he picked up those documents, the night before, he made an 18-minute call to John Lisko — the one-time chief of staff to Rob McCord, the former Pennsylvania treasurer arrested on corruption charges. Because of that unrelated investigation, Lisko’s calls were being tapped by the FBI. Morrow said he had no idea he was being recorded and told Lisko about Kane’s request, as the two were friends and he wanted advice.
“So Kathleen called me today… and was like Adrian [King] has documents for you to leak out,” Morrow said over the phone, continuing: “and all this bullshit about Frank Fina and the Jerry Mondesire investigation.”
He complained to Lisko that Kane had recently referred to him as a “mere acquaintance” because their relationship was questioned after he was glancingly mentioned in a March 2014 Inquirer story about a thwarted sting operation.
“You’re a conflict of interest, actual or fictional, you’re a conflict of interest, and now you’re the one giving inside documents,” Morrow told Lisko, describing how he felt Kane was treating him. “It’s like, you fuckin’ leak them!”
Morrow, who served as a communications director on Kane’s campaign for attorney general, said the two were close. He teared up earlier in his testimony when he admitted to lying “to protect her” in front of a grand jury on multiple occasions, saying “getting her elected was very important, and I was very proud of it.”
Morrow also lamented to Lisko that he didn’t feel there was “an overall strategy” when Kane asked him to leak the documents.
“I just felt that there needed to be some overall strategy as far as why we’re doing this,” he clarified in testimony after the audio was played. “But if we’re going to do it, we should do it right. I knew that they had an interest in getting negative information out about Frank Fina.”
Morrow described a relationship between Kane and Fina that had “animosity,” and said he and Kane spoke “a lot” about their distaste for Fina. He said Kane’s beef with Fina dated back to 2013, but was enflamed in March 2014 when The Inquirer story dropped about the thwarted sting operation. The story detailed an operation that Kane halted in which six Philadelphia Democrats were caught on tape accepting bribes. Kane believed Fina leaked the story to The Inquirer in order to embarrass her.
“She was just hell-bent,” he said, “on getting back at Frank Fina.”
The former consultant also said he and Kane “conspired to create this story that wasn’t true.” They spoke multiple times before and after he testified before a grand jury, and decided they would both tell officials that Kane had never seen the memo and the transcript that was leaked to The Daily News.
Now, Morrow has immunity in the case. And he says that after several tries, he’s finally being truthful.
“The burden of keeping this in,” he said, “it was affecting me.”
Morrow will continue under direct examination after court returns from a lunch break.
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