Friday, September 2, 2016

I'll restore trust and integrity to the Attorney General's Office: John Rafferty

By PennLive Op-Ed 
on August 30, 2016 at 1:00 PM
By John Rafferty
The act of casting a vote for someone to serve in an elected office comes with an inherent agreement that the person elected to serve will do so while upholding the highest ethical standards.
According to voters, trust in those elected to represent us in office is at an all-time low. And with good reason.  
On the national level, we have a former Secretary of State whose use of a private email server, along with recurring questions about the relationship between the state department and the Clinton Foundation, continue to fuel questions about her ethics and her respect for the law. Voters can have no trust in a candidate who conducts themselves in that manner.
Here in Pennsylvania, we have our own crisis of confidence and trust with those we elected to serve us.  
When two former state treasurers are indicted or awaiting sentencing and a former U.S. Congressman convicted of corruption is also awaiting sentencing something is terribly wrong. 
A jury convicted our most recent attorney general of two felony perjury and abuse of power charges. She resigned in disgrace. All of that is unacceptable.
At a time in our country and our commonwealth when we face so many threats, both domestically and internationally, it is my firm belief that we must hold our public officials to a standard of conduct that is beyond reproach.  
In Pennsylvania, we face a heroin and opioid epidemic that is now the leading cause of accidental death in Pennsylvania.
One priority for Pennsylvania Republicans this year is taking back an office they have long seen as rightfully theirs: the Office of Attorney General. The choice between candidates Joe Peters and John Rafferty largely hinges on the kind of experience that GOP voters want.
Our state economy is struggling under the weight of over regulation and the threat of higher taxes from both the federal and the state governments. We see our police, those who serve to protect us, attacked and killed.
We are under a constant threat from terrorists who wish to do us harm simply for being American, to name only a few of the many issues we will face on the national and state levels.
There can be no questions from our constituents as to whether those in elected office are operating in a "gray area," or are allowing conflicts of interest to become a question mark in their decisions.  
We know what happens when a politician, responsible for keeping us safe and looking out for our interests, chooses their own political ambitions over making the best decisions for the citizens of Pennsylvania.  Sadly, this is an issue for my opponent.
Beemer could have a lively, albeit short, tenure, but many think he's the right choice to help the state's top law enforcement agency regain its footing.
Throughout his political career, and especially in this race, prosecutors and members of his own party have accused Josh Shapiro of questionable practices, including awarding government contracts to top donors and taking contributions from individuals with a checkered past. 
Josh Shapiro accepted and then, under force, returned donations from individuals with corruption convictions. Some current Shapiro donors are even paying lawsuit settlements to attorneys general in other states.  
Add to that his refusal to step down from a role where, as an agent of the state, he is in a position to give grants to potential political backers, and it would appear that Shapiro has, at the very least, the appearance of an ethics problem. 
Would he earn your trust? I am convinced he would not. 
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania deserves an attorney general who is there to be exactly that, the top law enforcement officer of the state.  That is why I pledged from day one of my campaign that if elected I will not seek higher office and I will not use the Office of Attorney General to run for governor.  
I will guide all of my decisions and policies by my desire to keep you and your family safe and to uphold the law in Pennsylvania.  
I will make sure there will never be a need for anyone to question my ethics. My opponent will not make this pledge because his political aspirations go far beyond the Office of Attorney General. 
The Montgomery County commissioner faces GOP Sen. John Rafferty in the November election.
All of us in Pennsylvania paid a high price the past four years as we went down a path of distrust and lies. 
Ask yourself, don't we deserve better? I know we do. Your trust in me is a promise I will gladly and wholeheartedly fulfill.
The author, a state senator from Montgomery County, is the Republican nominee for Pennsylvania Attorney General.

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