AG Kane

Charles Mostoller

Pennsylvania's top prosecutor, Kathleen Kane, on Tuesday announced the appointment of former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler to conduct a comprehensive investigation of racist and sexist emails shared by top law enforcement on state computers.

"He will have the sword of prosecutorial power," Kane said. "He believes, as I do, that government leaders should show dignity and respect toward the people that they serve."

In September 2014, Kane identified state officials who received emails consisting of crude jokes and graphics passed among hundreds of people in state government and announced her investigation into the exchanges.

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Gansler, who served as attorney general for eight years under former Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley and is currently is a partner at Washington law firm Buckley Sandler, said he would prosecute with diligence.

"We will follow the facts wherever they lead," Gansler said, stressing his independence from Kane and the state judicial system. "We want to do our job and to do it well."

At Tuesday's news conference, Kane released slides of 21 newly revealed emails connected to the investigation. Her spokesman, Chuck Ardo, would not link the emails to any specific individual, but said they were among those to be looked at.

Some ridiculed African-Americans for their clothing choices or body image or suggested they were thieves. Another, showing a white woman with two black eyes, was captioned, "Irish sunglasses," given, "when you forget to make dinner."

One image showed a young boy pinching the nipple of an adult woman sunbathing topless.

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The e-mails found unexpectedly on the attorney general computer server have roiled Pennsylvania politics since the fall of 2014. One state supreme court justice linked to the emails resigned and a second is facing pressure to do likewise. Several other state officials have also resigned.