When Pennsylvania Attorney General Elect Josh Shapiro takes the oath of office Jan. 17 he will be moving into an office that has been racked by controversy. The last elected Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, was sentenced in October to 10 to 23 months in prison on charges of perjury and abuse of her office.
Shapiro said he believes he as a track record of acting ethically and will instill that in his staff.
“Everybody will be required to sign a code of conduct. Everyone will be required to go through mandatory ethics training,” Shapiro said. “We will have a gift ban, for example, so that neither the Attorney General nor anybody on our staff can be perceived as being for sale.”
The Democrat said when he decided to run nearly a year ago he knew it was not a job to be taken lightly.
“I believe the roll of the Attorney General is the most impactful job in state government, period,” said the former State Representative and Montgomery County Commissioner. “It gives you the opportunity to go out and fight for each and every Pennsylvanian, protect their rights and make a real difference in communities all across southwestern Pennsylvania and all across our commonwealth.”
Since being elected in November Shapiro has been holding a series of town hall-style meetings.
“We were in Allentown talking about the heroin epidemic. I was in North Philadelphia talking about gun violence. I was in Scranton talking about scams against seniors,” Shapiro said. “I go and I listen… and I gain insight and ideas.”
Shapiro will hold a public meeting in Pittsburgh Jan. 10.
Shapiro said taking on the opioid epidemic will be a top priority in his first year in office.
“We have a plan to address it and we’re putting together the personnel to address it and I certainly have the wherewithal and the desire to go and address it and reduce the number of heroin and opioid overdose deaths in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” he said.
Shapiro said he plans to work closely with local law enforcement to combat street-level dealers while at the same time working with the medical community to stop the overprescribing of opioids.
“In addition to that we need to make sure the pharmaceutical companies are at the table,” Shapiro said, “I’ve said many times that we would combat the heroin epidemic on the street corners in Pittsburgh as well in the board rooms of a pharmaceutical company if we have to.”
Earlier this month Shapiro named Michelle A. Henry as First Deputy Attorney General. Henry currently holds a similar position in the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office.