Tak­ing dif­fer­ent tacks on is­sues

Race for AG pits Raf­ferty against Shapiro

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

The race for Penn­syl­va­nia at­tor­ney gen­eral pits a 43-yearold lawyer from Mont­gomery County who has raised $4.9 mil­lion for his cam­paign against a 63-year-old lawyer from Mont­gomery County who has raised $1.3 mil­lion.

Both have ex­pe­ri­ence in the Penn­syl­va­nia Gen­eral Assem­bly, both agree on many of the is­sues that need to be ad­dressed, both op­pose the use of pri­vate pris­ons and both have even served on the Penn­syl­va­nia Com­mis­sion on Crime and

Delin­quency, of which one, Josh Shapiro, is cur­rently the chair­man.

The two don’t agree, ob­vi­ously, on which one is best suited to ad­dress­ing those is­sues, nor on the man­ner in which each is­sue needs to be ad­dressed.

John Raf­ferty, 63, the Repub­li­can can­di­date, is a state sen­a­tor for the 44th Dis­trict, which in­cludes por­tions of Mont­gomery, Ch­ester and Berks coun­ties. He grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of Pitts­burgh and his law de­gree is from Tem­ple Univer­sity.

Shapiro, 43, the Demo­cratic can­di­date, is the chair­man of the Mont­gomery County Com­mis­sion­ers. He grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of Rochester and his law de­gree is from Ge­orge­town Univer­sity.

He served four two-year terms in the Penn­syl­va­nia House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Pre­vi­ously, Dig­i­tal First Me­dia re­ported that Shapiro has out-fund-raised Raf­ferty by a mar­gin of nearly 4 to 1, at least partly with the help of a $250,000 do­na­tion

the park­ing lot of Penn­syl­va­nia guns shows” and be­lieves back­ground checks should be expanded to in­clude pri­vate sales of long guns.

Shapiro has also pledged to “re­view” rec­i­proc­ity agree­ments with other states, which some­times al­low those who can­not ob­tain con­cealed carry per­mits in Penn­syl­va­nia to ob­tain them from other states with fewer re­stric­tions — of­ten called “the Florida loop­hole.”

Raf­ferty, who has an “A” rat­ing from the NRA, said his ap­proach to il­le­gal guns is to “get them out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.”

Raf­ferty said he does not see the need for any ad­di­tional gun con­trol laws, al­though he touts his lead­er­ship in the pas­sage of a 2012 law in­creas­ing penal­ties for straw pur­chasers, en­acted af­ter a weapon bought that way killed Ply­mouth po­lice Of­fi­cer Bradley Fox, a New Hanover res­i­dent.

If elected, Raf­ferty said he would re-ini­ti­ate the joint firearms task force, which en­joyed suc­cess in Philadel­phia un­der for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Tom Cor­bett and for­mer Philadel­phia Dis­trict At­tor­ney

Raf­ferty said he be­lieves part of Kane’s prob­lem was that she was con­sid­ered a ris­ing po­lit­i­cal star, and it dis­tracted her from do­ing the job.

He sug­gested Shapiro would suf­fer from the same dis­trac­tion.

“Ev­ery­one was talk­ing about her like she would be the next gov­er­nor or the next sen­a­tor,” Raf­ferty said. “When you have your eyes on the gov­er­nor’s man­sion or a Se­nate seat, you only have one eye on your of­fice and you make de­ci­sions based on what’s good for your po­lit­i­cal ca­reer. I will keep the pol­i­tics out of the at­tor­ney’s gen­eral’s of­fice.”

On his web­site, Raf­ferty has pledged that he will not seek higher of­fice.

“I’m not look­ing to run for gov­er­nor,” Raf­ferty said.

Shapiro, whose name has been men­tioned in po­lit­i­cal cir­cles as a ris­ing star, de­murred when asked if he is plan­ning to seek higher of­fice, re­spond­ing, “I am run­ning for at­tor­ney gen­eral.”

Eth­i­cal stan­dards

Like Raf­ferty, Shapiro has ap­proached the fall­out from Kane’s con­vic­tion and res­ig­na­tion from of­fice by pledg­ing to im­ple­ment stricter ethics stan­dards. what he calls an “in­tegrity agenda,” which in­cludes a gift ban, strength­en­ing the state ethics com­mis­sion, in­creas­ing penal­ties for pub­lic cor­rup­tion and mak­ing gifts and cam­paign do­na­tions avail­able on­line on a “real time” ba­sis.

Raf­ferty said he would im­ple­ment an ethics code based on the one used by the U.S. Dept. of Jus­tice and un­der­take a com­plete de­part­men­tal re­view.

Pro­tect­ing the vul­ner­a­ble

Both can­di­dates have high­lighted a need for the next at­tor­ney gen­eral to im­prove con­sumer pro­tec­tions, com­bat­ting things like the sud­denly in­creased cost of EpiPens and to pro­tect the most vul­ner­a­ble.

Shapiro high­lighted plans for in­creas­ing pro­tec­tions for se­niors and pledged to in­crease pros­e­cu­tions for phone and mail scams.

“Scams cost Penn­syl­va­nia

and al­though it is typ­i­cally re­ported to lo­cal po­lice, they don’t have the ju­ris­dic­tion they need,” he said. He pro­poses a spe­cial divi­sion to root out scams against se­niors.

In his in­ter­view, Raf­ferty also chose to high­light a new divi­sion he wants to form to pro­tect vul­ner­a­ble ci­ti­zens — chil­dren.

He said there was a fo­cus on child preda­tors un­der Cor­bett and dur­ing Kane’s first year and he would like to see it re­vived.

In par­tic­u­lar, Raf­ferty said, he wants to form a “Me­gan’s Law Strike Force” that tracks down what he sus­pects are “hun­dreds, if not thou­sands” of reg­is­tered sex of­fend­ers who no longer live at the ad­dress where they orig­i­nally reg­is­tered.

Fur­ther, Raf­ferty has pro­posed a school safety task force aimed at pro­vid­ing more com­pre­hen­sive dis­as­ter train­ing for schools, in­clud­ing how to spot and re­act to be­hav­ior of po­ten­tial ac­tive shoot­ers in schools.

Raf­ferty has fur­ther pro­posed that new leg­is­la­tion to bet­ter reg­u­late an­i­mal oper­a­tions and pun­ish an­i­mal abuse.

Opi­oid epi­demic

Shapiro and Raf­ferty also both high­lighted the opi­oid epi­demic sweep­ing the na­tion and Penn­syl­va­nia alike as some­thing with which the next at­tor­ney gen­eral must con­tend.

“I was at an event in Cum­ber­land County where they were emp­ty­ing the ex­pired medicine drop boxes,” said Shapiro. “They filled the en­tire truck and fully 20 per­cent of the meds there were opi­oids.”

Raf­ferty has pro­posed a “heroin strike force” co­or­di­nat­ing the ef­forts of dis­trict at­tor­neys and state and lo­cal in­tel­li­gence units so that lo­cal forces “go af­ter the street-level deal­ers and we will go af­ter the mid-level and high-level deal­ers.”

He will also push for max­i­mum jail time, but rec­og­nizes the ne­ces­sity of in­volv­ing the med­i­cal com­mu­nity and courts as well.

“I would like to use an ap­proach sim­i­lar to the one Judge Sea­mus McCaf­fery used with vet­er­ans courts, get­ting non­vi­o­lent of­fend­ers trans­ferred to a treat­ment fa­cil­ity,” said Raf­ferty. “And we need to ed­u­cate phar­ma­cies and doc­tors

to stop open-ended pre­scrip­tions.”

Both Shapiro and Raf­ferty have high­lighted the need to curb “doc­tor-shop­ping,” by which an ad­dict gets an opi­oid pre­scrip­tion from one doc­tor, and then goes to an­other a short time later to ob­tain an­other.

Shapiro said a statewide doc­tor database would help, as well as pro­vid­ing the opi­oid-block­ing drug, nalox­one, to all first re­spon­ders to help pre­vent over­doses.

He too sup­ports di­vert­ing non­vi­o­lent drug of­fend­ers into treat­ment and not into the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. He cites Mont­gomery County’s “drug courts” as a suc­cess­ful model that could be put into place around the state.

“We are not go­ing to ar­rest our way out of the opi­oid cri­sis,” Shapiro said.

Re­form­ing crim­i­nal jus­tice

Shapiro has also re­leased a white pa­per on what he sees as the need to re­form Penn­syl­va­nia’s crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem in a com­pre­hen­sive way.

He pro­posed re­forms in­clude money for de­fense at­tor­neys for the in­di­gent, not­ing Penn­syl­va­nia is the only state in the na­tion that does not pro­vide for this.

With the high­est prison pop­u­la­tion in the north­east, Shapiro has also rec­om­mended re­form­ing pre­trial de­ten­tion, sen­tenc­ing and pa­role rec­om­men­da­tions “to en­sure that lim­ited law en­force­ment re­sources are spent on the most se­ri­ous of­fend­ers.”

Shapiro has also pro­posed broad­en­ing the abil­ity for dis­trict at­tor­ney’s to re­fer cases in which po­lice abuse is charged to the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice.

Up­dat­ing data­bases and elim­i­nat­ing the back­log of 1,800 rape kits are also part of his pro­pos­als — all of which are aimed at mak­ing sure the $4 bil­lion Penn­syl­va­nia spends an­nu­ally on corrections — more than on higher ed­u­ca­tion, are put to the best use.

“We need a smart-on­crime ap­proach that tar­gets re­sources to where they are needed most, em­pha­sizes treat­ment for the non-vi­o­lent and breaks the cy­cle of re­cidi­vism,” Shapiro said in an Oct. 4 press re­lease an­nounc­ing the pro­posal.

John C. Raf­ferty Jr.

Josh Shapiro

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