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Castor says he barely knew AG Kane before she made him aide
The lawyer just hired by Attorney General Kathleen Kane to be her second-in-command said Friday the two had met just twice and only briefly before she gave him final decision-making authority on legal matters while her law license remains suspended.
Bruce Castor, whose appointment to the newly created post of solicitor general was announced earlier this week, said he thought Kane was about to ask him to represent her in her own criminal case when she summoned him to her Scranton office.
Kane faces trial on charges she unlawfully leaked information from a grand jury probe and then lied about it. The first-term Democrat is not seeking re-election this year.
Castor is a former county prosecutor who has become a key figure in Bill Cosby's criminal defense. A judge in February rejected his claim he had given Cosby an immunity deal a decade ago in an alleged 2004 sex assault. Cosby, charged in the case in December, is appealing.
At their meeting about a month ago, Castor said Kane greeted him effusively and asked him if he knew what she wanted, he said. When he guessed wrong, she told him she did not need a new defense attorney for her case. Her charges are pending in Montgomery County, where Republican Castor served two terms as district attorney and eight years as county commissioner.
Kane told him she wanted "another executive leadership level in her office" and had spoken to people who recommended him, he said.
"I said, 'You know I'm a Republican, right?' 'Yes.' 'And you know that I have often been critical of you in writing and in print, right?' She goes, 'Oh, yes, I always read that,'" Castor said.
He said he agreed to take the job before realizing he should run it past his wife and his law partner, and that he did not want to lose as a client Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller, whom he represents in a federal lawsuit alleging defamation, conspiracy and other claims against Centre County, county officials and lawyers.
Under their agreement, he said he has final word on matters of legal decision-making.
He said he learned of the $150,000 salary only after The Associated Press sought the amount after his appointment was announced.
He praised as positive and professional the initial response to his hiring by senior staff, including among division heads who testified about problems in the attorney general's office to a special Senate committee that was considering whether to remove Kane from office. The removal effort failed in a February floor vote.
"Whether there's a rift in the office, which I think is overblown by the way, having been there, whether there's a rift in the office and whether there are outside forces endeavoring to hurt the office, that doesn't mean we can allow that to influence decisions that affect all Pennsylvanians," Castor said.
Castor said he never received any of the emails that have resulted in the discipline of dozens of employees within the state prosecutor's office and resignations by two sitting Supreme Court justices.
"No, and it's funny — I knew all those guys," Castor said. "I actually kind of feel like we must not have been as good as friends as I thought because I never got any. I'm not complaining about it now, that's for sure."
He said he has received marching orders from Kane directing him to take steps to avoid following the criminal case against her, so that he can't be accused of retaliation against employees who have been or will be witnesses against his new boss.