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PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Eugene DePasquale in the Democratic primary for attorney general | Endorsement

While the other Democratic contenders for attorney general are well qualified, DePasquale is the only candidate who has been elected in statewide races.

The Editorial Board recommends former state auditor general Eugene DePasquale for state attorney general in the Democratic primary.

JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer


by The Editorial Board

Published Apr. 11, 2024, 6:00 a.m. ET


There were some shameful years when the phrase “scandal-plagued” best described the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.


In fact, two attorneys general went to prison. Ernest D. Preate Jr., a Republican from Scranton, pleaded guilty in 1995 to one count of mail fraud for taking secret campaign contributions from illegal video poker game operators. Kathleen Kane, a Democrat from Scranton, was convicted in 2016 of perjury, obstruction, and other counts after leaking secret investigative files to embarrass a rival prosecutor.


Josh Shapiro followed Kane and quickly set about reforming the office and taking on powerful interests. He exposed decades of child abuse and cover-up in the Roman Catholic Church and helped negotiate a $26 billion settlement with makers and distributors of opioid painkillers.


Shapiro’s finest hour came in defending a barrage of lawsuits by then-President Donald Trump, who attempted to overturn the 2020 election. Shapiro was elected governor in 2022, leaving big shoes to fill.


Fortunately, voters in the Democratic primary on April 23 can choose from five strong candidates: Keir Bradford-Grey, the former Philadelphia chief public defender; Eugene DePasquale, a former state auditor general and three-term state representative; Joe Khan, a former Bucks County solicitor; Jared Solomon, a state representative from Northeast Philadelphia; and Jack Stollsteimer, the district attorney in Delaware County.


All five contenders make a compelling case, but one candidate edged out the others. The Inquirer endorses Eugene DePasquale for attorney general in the Democratic primary.

DePasquale, 52, was born in Pittsburgh and now lives in York County, where he served as the director of economic development for the city of York. He went on to serve as a state representative from York from 2007 to 2013. DePasquale was then elected auditor general, where he used the office to improve the health and safety of residents across Pennsylvania.

Then-Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale speaks at a news conference at a Royer's Pharmacy in 2018 about a report on pharmacy benefit managers getting paid too much under the state's Medicaid program.

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER


DePasquale investigated the state Department of Environmental Protection’s lax oversight of Marcellus Shale drilling to ensure the water supply was not compromised. A 2016 audit found a backlog of thousands of rape kits that had gone untested by local law enforcement, hampering the ability to solve sexual assault crimes. Increased funding helped reduce the backlog by 97%.


Following a mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, DePasquale released a report in 2018 that outlined ways to reduce gun violence, which included increased mental health support and gun safety training.


DePasquale, who received his law degree from Widener University, lacks experience as a prosecutor. But so did Shapiro, who was an excellent attorney general.

DePasquale has other strengths. He managed a large state office and served as its public face. That experience may be more valuable since the attorney general oversees the office and rarely tries cases.


More importantly, throughout DePasquale’s tenure as auditor general, he demonstrated independence and fairness — two important attributes for any prosecutor. In these times of deep political partisanship, DePasquale, as auditor general, stood up to both Republican and Democratic governors.


If elected, DePasquale’s top priorities are protecting democracy, defending the right to abortion, and protecting the environment. He is committed to combating violent crime but wants wrongdoers battling addiction to also get treatment.


Defending election integrity and abortion rights are especially important as Trump and Republicans at the state and federal level continue a yearslong assault on the right to vote and women’s reproductive rights. DePasquale’s willingness to go after influential polluters is also needed to protect the health and safety of residents, and to combat climate change.


While the other Democratic candidates for attorney general are well qualified, DePasquale has one other big advantage: He is the only candidate who has been elected in statewide races. In fact, DePasquale was elected statewide twice — including in 2016 when Trump won Pennsylvania.


Given the high stakes, it is important that voters choose a proven winner. DePasquale is the best choice for attorney general in the Democratic primary.

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