Shapiro: First job is restoring integrity
Newly elected Pa. AG also vows to battle the state’s ‘devastating’ heroin epidemic
NORRISTOWN >> Pennsylvania Attorney Generalelect Josh Shapiro vowed to battle the state’s “devastating” heroin epidemic and to work at “restoring integrity” to the office when he takes the reins in January.
“As I’ve traveled across the commonwealth, probably the number one issue I heard about was the devastating effects of heroin and opioids on communities all across Pennsylvania, rural, suburban, urban communities,” Shapiro, 43, currently chairman of the Montgomery County commissioners, said Thursday, two days after the general election during which he defeated Republican state Sen. John Rafferty for the state post. “We’re going to have a very aggressive approach to dealing with it, one that is multi-faceted.”
That plan, Shapiro said, will include diverting nonviolent offenders who are suffering from addiction into treatment; partnering more ef-
fectively with law enforcement, including neighboring attorneys general to stem the flow of heroin from “major pipelines” such as one from Detroit to Erie; and working with the medical community to deal with the overprescribing of opioid painkillers.
“But I would say that job number one is restoring integrity to the office and to our justice system,” said Shapiro, who is inheriting an office that faced turmoil after the arrest and conviction of former Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane. “That process
will begin next week when I announce some of the leaders of my transition team…as we assemble a strong, ethical, diverse staff. We’ll be developing policies and procedures for the office, a new code of conduct, mandatory ethics training.”
From day one, Shapiro pledged, he’ll work to ensure the integrity of the office and have a strong team and new policies and procedures to guide the office. Shapiro would not reveal more at this time about any personnel decisions.
In August, Kane, 50, a former Lackawanna County prosecutor who was elected attorney general in 2012 and was considered a rising star among
Democrats, was convicted of charges of perjury and abuse of power. A jury determined she orchestrated the illegal disclosure of secret grand jury information to the media and then engaged in acts designed to conceal and cover up her conduct.
Last month, Kane was sentenced to 10 to 23 months in jail but remains free on bail while appealing her conviction.
In Tuesday’s balloting, Shapiro had a strong showing. He received even more votes than the top of the Democratic ticket, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The key, Shapiro said, was that he traveled the state listening to citizens
and learning about the challenges their communities faced.
“The reality is we have got to listen to voters and we got to listen to the people and we got to be responsive and put forth real solutions. I think so much of the campaign season in general was dominated by the shout fest on cable TV and that doesn’t serve anybody’s interests,” Shapiro said.
“I said many times that I’m very proud to be a Democrat but I was running to be the attorney general for all Pennsylvanians and I recognize that this job is very unique, unlike the job of a legislator, for example, where you really have to check your
partisanship at the door when you walk in on day one and be the attorney general for all Pennsylvanians and meet the needs of all Pennsylvanians regardless of where they live or how they’re registered or who they voted for,” Shapiro added.
While the “lion’s share” of his time as attorney general will be spent at the headquarters in Harrisburg, Shapiro, an Abington resident and father of four, said he’ll remain living in Montgomery County.
“We love our community,” said Shapiro, who will resign as a county commissioner before he takes office as the state’s top-ranking law enforcement official in January.
Shapiro’s commissioner’s seat will be filled, presumably by another Democrat. Party leaders will recommend a candidate for the seat to the county Board of Judges, which must give final approval. Whoever is appointed to the post will serve the remaining three years of Shapiro’s term.
“I’m incredibly honored and humbled by the confidence that the people of Pennsylvania have shown in me to serve as their next attorney general. I look forward to being the people’s attorney general and we will be working incredibly hard to meet the needs of the people of this great commonwealth,” Shapiro said.
Democrat Josh Shapiro speaks to supporters in Doylestown after he was elected as Pennsylvania’s attorney general on Tuesday.