Shapiro blasts bishops for response to sex abuse scandal

Robert Inglis/The Daily Item Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro talks during an interview on Thursday afternoon.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Monday he has delivered on his promises to voters during his first term so he hopes voters give him a second term in office.

“I talk all the time about putting people before powerful institutions,” he said.

“We’ve taken on the biggest fights,” Shapiro said in a Monday meeting with editors of CNHI's Pennsylvania newspapers, scheduled as part of a series with statewide candidates in the Nov. 3 election.

Shapiro, a Democrat, is opposed by Republican Heather Heidelbaugh in the Nov. 3 election.

Perhaps most prominently, Shapiro’s office led the grand jury investigation that resulted in a statewide report documenting abuse by 300 priests impacting children over decades.

Shapiro pointed to his record on multiple fronts, including going after pharmaceutical companies and pill mill doctors, as well, helping push forward the policy debate on gun reform, and protecting the interest of consumers.

“When corporations and others took advantage of consumers, just during COVID, we got those consumers back $2 million, money they were scammed out of,” he said.

The attorney general’s office also held for-profit colleges accountable for encouraging students to run up debt to get degrees of little value.

“We not only shut down those for-profit colleges that were acting improperly, we got $60, 6-0, $60 million in loan and debt forgiveness for students.”

Last year, Shapiro came out in support of a proposal backed by Gov. Tom Wolf that would legalize adult recreational use of marijuana.

Shapiro said he decided he could support a move to legalize recreational marijuana use as long as the move comes with criminal justice reforms like expunging the records of prior convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

“You can’t just legalize it and walk away,” he said.

Shapiro said he also decided he could support a move to legalize marijuana only after he’d studied the data on what legalization of the drug has meant to driving under the influence rates in other states.

“I really fixated on that,” Shapiro said. “it has not translated into any material uptick in DUIs. It just hasn’t."

More recently, Shapiro led efforts to build consensus supporting the idea of creating a statewide database of police misconduct so that police agencies don’t unknowingly hire offices with records of misconduct.

Talks about possible police reforms had begun almost a year ago, but the momentum accelerated after the May police killing of George Floyd, he said.

“We became the first state in the nation with a divided government,” with Republicans holding the majority in both chambers of the General Assembly and a Democrat, Wolf, as governor, “to pass any kind of meaningful police reform,” he said.

Shapiro said additional reforms would include things like banning chokeholds and barring no-knock search warrants.

"I was also clear when I stood with the governor at the bill signing that I view (the police database) as a down payment toward other reforms,” Shapiro said.

CNHI PA State Reporter

John Finnerty reports from the Harrisburg Bureau for the New Castle News and other Pennsylvania newspapers owned by CNHI. Email him at jfinnerty@cnhi.com and follow him on Twitter @cnhipa.

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