tv NBC 10 The Democratic Debate for PA Attorney NBC April 7, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm EDT
>> allegheny county stephen zappala, morganelli, two long careers in law enforcement. county commissioner josh shapiro with a different look. >> i think my opponents take a narrow view of the office. >> there are claims that morganelli and the camps are working together. the three face off on live tv. you are watching the 2016 democratic debate for pennsylvania attorney general. good evening. welcome to our live coverage from nbc and telemundo from outside of philadelphia. >> we want to thank you for watching tonight. >> we are less than three weeks way from a primary election that will play a key role in the state of pennsylvania. we are so pleased to have all three democratic candidates running for pennsylvania attorney general here with us tonight.
they're standing in alphabetical order from left to right. starting with northampton district attorney, john morganelli, josh shapiro and stephen zappala, jr. >> we have gone over the ground rules with the candidates but for those of you at home the candidates will have one minute to answer each question. if we determine that a rebuttal is needed the candidates will then have 30 seconds to respond. >> as you're watching along we invite you to join the conversation on twitter. using the #paag debate. we have only an hour and there's a lot of ground to cover so let's get started. we begin with this week's hot topic. are d.a. morganelli and zappala coordinating against schaap? let's begin with mr. morganelli. are you working with mr. zappala? >> that's absolutely untrue. first of all, i don't think anybody in their right mind would spend $600,000 of hard earned campaign cash to help someone else get elected.
steve zappala and i have been colleagues but we had not had that much contact over the 18 years that steve has been d.a. and the 24 years i have been d.a. we're at opposite ends of the state and we're not working together. i think mr. shapiro has manufactured this story and some of the media has bought on to it. because he recognizes that he is the least qualified candidate in this raise. we're prosecutors we're running for a job that's law enforcement. that's the nature of the position. mr. shapiro has never been a law enforcement officer. he never been an assistant district attorney or a public defender. he has nothing to do with law enforcement. he's a career politician that's how he described himself on his facebook page. most of us run from the designation of politician. josh embraces it. he was in the legislature. and he's a county commissioner. but this is a law enforcement position. it requires prosecutorial experience, knowing how grand juries run. i want to get elected and i'm hoping that steve stays as allegheny county d.a.
>> are you working with mr. morganelli? >> no. i think one of the biggest distinctions between john and i as a candidate and josh, is our life is in a courthouse. our life is evidence. our life is facts. that's what we deal with. we don't deal with rhetoric and when somebody touches or concerns facts that need to be addressed because you're talking about pay to play -- pay to play mentality which i have seen in several areas all over this state. it's one of the areas i intend to take up as the attorney general of pennsylvania. >> mr. shapiro? >> well, these gentlemen have told you what they are and what they think i am. let me tell you what i am. i'm a fighter for all pennsylvanians. i have spent my career in public service going out and looking after the needs of pennsylvanians. first as a state representative fighting for my district. then as a county commissioner. and now as chairman of the pennsylvania commissioner on crime and delinquency. i've stood up for the values. i have been an executive who knows how to make government work. i have worked with victims in communities across pennsylvania
to make them safe. look, i don't know what these guys are up to but i can tell you what i'm up to. each and every day i travel the commonwealth of pennsylvania. telling people what i'll do for them. telling people how i'll protect their water, make their communities safer and go out and protect seniors from fraud. these are the things that i'm all about. i have spent my career doing this. and i look forward to doing it as your next attorney general. >> thank you. >> all right. we want to get right to the issues that affect the people of pennsylvania. this year's election comes as the attorney general's office is embroiled in scandal. kathleen kane faces charges for allegedly leaking grand jury information. you all said you want to repair the badly damaged office and restore integrity and confidence. give us a specific plan for how you'll get the office back on track, mr. shapiro? >> i appreciate the question. first thing i did in this campaign was put out my integrity agenda. it contained things that i would call for and things that i would do on day one. in the a.d.'s office.
first, every single employee when i'm attorney general will be required to follow a code of conduct. second, mandatory ethics training. third, all of our expenses and expenditures will be made public. fourth, a gift ban. fifth, we make sure we establish a casey commissioner who would commanden the operations of our office and examine all of state government to make sure we're operating at optimum ethics. my first hire would be a chief diversity officer to make sure my folks represent the best of pennsylvania. when you take an oath to protect the people of pennsylvania, you better come from where they're from, look like them and be sensitive to their needs. that's my plan to restore integrity to the office of attorney general. >> mr. zappala? >> i had -- i've heard the question about integrity at that office all over pennsylvania. integry think is demonstrated by your actions. i'm going to do what i have done for 18 years as district attorney for allegheny county. we're going to create another scheme, different scheme to
combat violence and illegal hand guns and make sure that politicians at the highest levels understand that i have the willingness and i have prosecuted and convicted politicians. and public corruption will not be tolerated. we'll make sure that the technology is implemented all over pennsylvania so that our police as they drive the highways they're pulling people over for the right reasons, not because they're racially profiling people. we'll make sure major crime investigators are well tool and be on the front of the conviction integrity. across this commonwealth, everybody in law enforcement is going to understand that if you arrest somebody for a crime they didn't commit, that's a tragedy. we'll live with that thought every day. >> mr. morganelli? >> i think we're people of integrity and any one of us can restore integrity in the office. what i want to do is i think we have to clean house at the top of the office. there was a lot of holdovers from the corbett administration in this administration now.
there's kane people who are actually some of them have undermined their own boss. there's lots of issues of what these people are doing. whether they violated grand jury secrecy or not. i think that as pennsylvania's longest serving d.a., i'm not the oldest, but i'm the most senior d.a. in pennsylvania i think i have that reputation already. among the law enforcement community. i have been elected seven times by the citizens of northampton county. i'm going to get rid of this -- these people at the top. we're going to bring in new, young prosecutors from all around pennsylvania. i met many of them in my years as president of the state d.a.'s association. and i know a lot of the folks out there that are really good. they're going to be based on what i think they can bring to that office, the expertise and how you restore integrity is by bringing folks in who know the job. >> time. next question, kathleen kane made child predators her top
priority. beyond repairing the a.g.'s office, what would you do? >> i would implement dedicated units for domestic violence prosecutions and we need to keep the family unit together. those strike at the heart of our community. over the years we have demonstrated over and over again we're prepared to protect our children. i took upmc before the grand jury because children were being hurt at one of the campuses and they didn't report those as required by law. just this week in allegheny county we took a plea to the teacher who abused a child. took advantage of a student. he's serving time in the penitentiary. we have three more cases that we'll be prosecuting over the next two weeks. and again, i think you have to demonstrate you're prepared to take action on these issues by example. >> mr. morganelli? >> we have to multitask. all issues are important. child predators a huge issue we
do every day. we're out there arresting forgots -- folks. but i think pennsylvania is facing drug addiction and opiate problem. we have to develop a strategy to attack that. i think that strategy involves law enforcement. cracking down on the drug dealers. i'd like to create a new transnational crime unit inside the a.g.'s office that goes after national and international gangs that bring drugs into the country and end up in pennsylvania. i think that we need to look at the compliance section of the a.g.'s office to look at health care providers who are getting some folks hooked on opiates. it's education, but there's so in issues. the gun issue is huge. i want to get the guns out of the hands of criminals and mentally ill and children and the attorney general can implement a regulation that requires lost and stolen guns to be reported to law enforcement. there's so much we can do. i'm not just a one issue person. i think you have to do it all.
that's what we do every day as prosecutors in pennsylvania. >> mr. shapiro, your signature issue? >> so i appreciate where you're going with the question. you want to drill down on one issue. i think it would be somewhat irresponsible for an attorney general to say this is the one issue i'm going to focus on, but let me focus to the broader one issue to get at the heart of your question. i think the biggest challenge we face in our justice system today in pennsylvania is really a lack of fairness. a sense that certain people get certain rules and others get other rules. we have the sense that only certain people count in our justice system. when you have supreme court judges and others swapping homophobic and misogynistic e-mails back and forth with each other, no wonder people question the office. we have to restore that honor to our justice system so that every single person believes that gierting a fair shot. if we do that, then all the decisions we make thereafter are
ones that people can have confidence in. that i think is job one for the attorney general. >> thank you. district attorney morganelli, you mentioned the heroin and the illegal drug crisis. a heroin epidemic is sweeping across our state and governor wolf has called it a public health crisis that impacts one in four pennsylvania families. how would you take on this problem with the existing laws? we begin with you, mr. morganelli. >> these kind of issues involve a multifaceted approach. first of all, we have to crack down on those dealing drugs and they're selling poison to our children. i have arrested three individuals for what's called deliver -- drug delivery resulting in death. someone dies because someone gave them drugs. we have to send a message that if you sell hoirp to someone and they -- heroin to someone and they die, you'll be prosecuted. we have to identify where are these drugs coming in to? i believe the facts are clear.
99% of the drugs are coming into the united states and into pennsylvania come in through the seven world we are mexico. they're driven by trucks into pennsylvania. that's why i think we need to create a new unit in the attorney general's office that would focus on transnational gangs. gangs are formed for one purpose. a criminal enterprise to make money. drugs or human smuggling. we have to be out in the communities and we have to do our -- what we're doing through the p ba, a -- pba association. it's a multifaceted approach. >> your thoughts? >> heroin is the number one accidental kill here in the commonwealth of pennsylvania. it's surpassed car accidents recently. i have been dealing with this issue as chairman of the pennsylvania commissioner of crime and delinquency and we established a task force that brought law enforcement and human services together to try to tackle this issue. you see in this commonwealth, we need to begin to understand that drug addiction is a disease not a crime. and we need to begin to treat
those with the disease with services, with care, with drug court, other problem solving efforts within our justice system. you see, i understand that i will be merciless when it comes to the dealing with the drug dealers but compassionate when it comes to dealing with those with addiction. we have made sure that first responders have naloxone, a life saving drug for those overdosing. we have made sure that communities have places to throw away their old medication, of which roughly 20% of them are opioids which can be used if they get in the wrong hands. this has to be a comprehensive effort. it's what i have been doing and what i'll continue to do as attorney general. >> district attorney zappala? >> i haven't run competitively for 16 years and it's amazing the politicians this is a revolution we have a problem with heroin and opioids.
the heroin market was reintroduced in the late '80s and reintroduced by gangsters across the border. we attack it through a drug task force and i would do it in the same fashion as the attorney general. you have to bring law enforcement agencies together. you don't treat it -- not just law enforcement. you don't treat it as a criminal justice matter but as a health matter. the war on drugs has failed. because there's no distinction between the person who is drug addicted and the business of drug trafficking. it's a major business. on the other side, to mitigate against hurting people who are already hurting themselves we implemented in allegheny county several special dockets that address drug addiction and mental health and we have done a good job in trying to help those persons not become resid cysts and keep them out of the system. >> all right. the position of attorney general is a law enforcer not a lawmaker. in the absence of new legislation, what are the creative ways you can use the office to reduce gun violence? mr. shapiro, we start with you.
>> sure. there's a number of steps that we can take and i'll take as attorney general and using the bully pulpit as a chief law enforcement officer of pennsylvania. first, we need to make sure that the florida loophole, someone who goes to another state, used to be florida and gets the carry permit and brings it into pennsylvania, that that stays closed. and i would -- any of the states that are weaker with reciprocity will be shut down. second, comprehensive background checks. if you're gbuying it at a gun show and i'll work the close the gun show loophole. in addition to that, we need to make sure that anyone who applies for a permit here in pennsylvania and fails gets prosecuted. too oftentimes we let those people get back in the community. i'll also use the bully pulpit
to make sure which expand background check, to make sure we require lost and stolen guns to be reported. we fight straw purchasers, the number one thing hurting our communities. >> mr. zappala? >> my sense is that the legislature does not have the will to change the laws. i think the nra is too strong a lobby, so i wasn't counting on that. from the very first time i took office as district attorney, one of the things we did in connection with the domestic violence initiative we took a zero tolerance with batterers, those who beat women. we took their weapons and over the years when stand your ground was an issue i was very clear in my position. as a member of the executive board i went out with the allegheny county caucus and i told them this is bad law. you have two gangbangers facing off in the street you'll give them a defense if they kill an innocent child which unfortunately happened in our
county. i think the straw purchases is a problem. they took what i drafted to harrisburg and they could. get it done. right now -- i won't have enough time to answer illegal guns. sorry. >> mr. morganelli? >> for many years i have been advocating at least ten years or more that we need to -- the attorney general should take advantage of the powers under consumer protection to issue regulations, regulations have the same force and effect of the law passed by the lecture and under consumer safety make it mandatory that lost and stolen handguns must be reported to law enforcement. i would do that. i have been arguing that for many, many years. it would be challenged but i'm willing to take that risk and defend it in the courts. secondly, i have been advocating a new law with leadership from the bully pulpit of the a.g.'s office, i call it the parent's responsible gun ownership act. if you're a gun owner and if your home you have children under the age of 18 or people who are mentally ill, you have a
higher duty do keep that -- to keep that gun secure. if you don't, you can be held criminally or civilly liable. i think we need to strengthen the existing laws that we have and make it more specific as to that type of criminal liability. not just civil liability. but criminal liability as well. it will not infringe on gun owners. i got an "f" rating from the nra so they're no friend of mine. we can do a gun trafficking -- >> time, mr. morganelli. thank you. mr. shapiro? >> i want to jump in on something that stephen talked about he talked about the nra being a strong lobby and thus the legislature might not act. i think he's probably right on the politics of that. but that's why we need an attorney general to stand up to the nra. i have consistently stood up to the nra on closing the florida loophole on fighting the nra every step we can in pennsylvania. it will take leadership from the attorney general's office to be able to rid our communities of the illegal guns that are
plaguing our citizens. >> thank you. mr. zappala, did you want a rebuttal? >> sure. you can spend as much time as you want in the legislature and argue whatever you want and not get the results. if you're holding people's hands who lost a child through gun violence, you have to be out in the community. you have to know how they think you can help them. they'll tell you. they can identify the person -- that's what happens with the drug task force. if you're out there on the front and people give you information that helps you take the guys with the guns and the violent guys off the streets. >> all right. we'll move on to the next issue. the fbi is working on a plan to expand the tracking system for police involved encounters to include any incident that an officer carries serious injury or death to a citizen. if you support the national database, and should it be readily accessible to the
public? district attorney zappala? >> from the first day i took office in 1998 we had a motorist who was stopped for a motor vehicle violation and he winds up dead and my predecessor charged the police. what was missing there was a camera. some objective evidence so that the public can look at what happened. that interaction between the officer and the civilian and decide what we have to do about our criminal justice system. from the beginning of my tenure, we have talked about the probability that police are going to encounter civilians and use of force is going to be there. i don't know if we need a national database, but we need a process where it's very visible. exactly what happened, we demonstrate to the public about it. but the more objective the evidence that we have, we don't need a database to decide if we have an issue. you can see it, you can feel it and discuss it. you own the criminal justice system. the public owns the system. if they see the issue then they'll figure out how to
address it. >> mr. morganelli, your thoughts? >> i don't know enough about what the fbi plan is, quite frankly. but i do think that, you know, 99.9% of our police officers on the street do a great job. and times -- they run into dangerous folks. i mean, we have lots of guns on the streets but criminals do not hesitate to put a police officer in harm's way. sometimes police have to use force. now, when they cross the line, and they commit a crime, then it's up to us in the law enforcement community to bring them to justice. as d.a. i have arrested probably 50 police officers over my career for various crimes. prosecuted them. one case i tried myself on a bribery case. what's happening right now is a lack of evidence. josh alluded to that in the criminal justice system. that's why 16 years ago i advocated doing a racial profiling study in pennsylvania long before it was fashionable to call for that. to bring confidence to the minority communities where a lot of the mistrust exists. we need to do that. we need to bring them into the law enforcement family.
that's why i've advocated for it. i was the first to hire in my county. the first black county detective i hired. we need diversity and community and -- >> time. >> i think they need to be prosecuted that's what i do every day. >> commissioner shapiro? >> yes. obviously congress and the fbi will ultimately decide whether there's going to be a national database and if it helps create greater openness and transparency in the system i want to reserve the right to look at the rules and the regs i think it makes sense. here's what we need to do in pennsylvania. i think body cams need to be used by police all across pennsylvania. it's why as chairman of the pennsylvania commissioner on crime and delinquency i have n convened the leadership across the country, and in pittsburgh, steve, where you're from. working on addressing not whether police should wear body cameras, but many are for it,
but what laws do need amended. what's responsible for maintaining the database, how is that database going to be allowed to be in public hands if appropriate? these are the serious questions to be working on today. i have been engaged in that discussion. i look forward to making sure we have more tools to protect the law enforcement and i think body cams are a good example of that. >> thank you. the public has been reminded that the duties of the attorney general are wide ranging but within the criminal division the where it is ultimately up to you as attorney general to decide whether or not charges should be filed. what makes you prepared for that particular duty of the office? mr. morganelli, we start with you. >> well, as district attorney with the -- we're the chief law enforcement officer of our county. so it's something that we do every day. we all have what's called prosecutorial discretion. it allows us to decide where we'll put our resources because we have limited resources.
we have to make the decisions every day. i think the best training grounds to be attorney general is not serving in the legislature, but serving as a prosecuting attorney. i have tried 25 first degree murder cases to verdict. i have been in the grand jury which the attorney general runs statewide grand juries. mr. shapiro has never prosecuted a grand jury. he doesn't know how the grand jury runs. i have been a public defender for four years that's the training ground for this job. i know that josh would like to reinvent the job and make it into something that it's not. but when you look at the definition, it's chief law enforcement officer and the best training for that is to be a hands on prosecutor like myself who knows what the job entails. >> commissioner shapiro? >> interesting when you ask john a question about his qualifications he puts me down. that's the way this campaign has gone. here's the bottom line. when you're attorney general you need to have sound judgment. you need to have strong executive skills, you have have a good moral compass and you have to be rooted in integrity.
in every decision you make. whether you make that decision within the criminal division, whether you make that decision in the civil division or in the public protection division. you see, i'm not afraid to go out and take on the powerful interests. so when the frackers leave chemicals in our drinking water, i'm not going to give them a pass. in our criminal division or in our public protection division. when the powerful special interests are getting their own way because they have to follow a different set of rules than the rest of us, i'll take them on. we need an attorney general that's going to stand up for our rights, to be the people's attorney general. my legal background, my governmental background and the work in the public sector uniquely qualifies for for this. 40% of the attorney generals in the country come out of a nonprosecutorial background and they're healthy and making their states better that's what we need in pennsylvania. >> attorney general zappala?
>> thank you. i think the office of attorney general which is $100 million -- yeah -- the numbers are too big, $100 million agency. $70 million is dedicated to the investigation of the criminal matters. that's the chief law enforcement official of the state of pennsylvania. for 18 years i have made charging decision. i do that every day. i look at 45,000 criminal complaints in the course of the year. i may permit 16,000 to go to the indictment. i recognize that when you charge somebody with a crime you change their lives. sometimes irrep rably. that's why we work so hard to keep people from coming into the criminal justice system at the earliest opportunity and if they can address -- if they can address the problems that brought them there in the first place we help them to get out of the system. >> thank you. >> i'd like to -- one short rebuttal. >> quickly. >> mr. shapiro likes to talk about how he's fighting against if powerful forces. but the fact is, josh, you work for a big law firm. all you do is represent the powerful folks.
you're a lobbyist for big corporations in harrisburg, layman brothers and then you award million dollar contracts to the clients of your law firm. that's not representing the average folks, josh. that's powerful folks. >> let's move on if we could. >> actually, can i respond? >> sure. >> he likes to put me down instead of talking about himself. the people who know john morganelli and steve zappala guest are the d.a.s around the state. yet, more district attorneys in this commonwealth have endorsed me in this election for attorney general than the two of them combined. and not just from montgomery county and berks county, but from elk county and clear field and cambria county and places all across pennsylvania. they know the kind of job i have done and the kind of job i will do as attorney general. and i'm proud to have their backing. >> thank you. we're going to switch gears now for a few minutes. we have asked each candidate to prepare a question to ask of the fellow candidate. we begin with d.a. zappala. >> thank you.
the commissioner, josh, your entire legal career has consisted of part-time work that lobbies the state. in 2009 you led an effort to kill one of the most important ethics bigs in harrisburg. dug that protecting your -- do you believe that protecting your own income is more important than doing your job? >> i reject the basis of your question and you didn't summarize what my legal career has been. it was as a leading member of the judiciary committee in the house of representatives. as a member -- as the county commission chairman in montgomery county, where i oversee lawyers on legal issues each and every day. as the chairman of the pennsylvania commission on crime and delinquency, i make legal judgments each and every day and working on complex legal issues in the private sector at the law firm in philadelphia. so steve, you can
mischaracterize my background all you want. i'm proud of my legal career. and my legal career is what uniquely qualifies me to be the next attorney general. >> thank you. mr. morganelli, time for your question for another candidate. >> mr. shapiro, why -- >> popular guy tonight. >> why do you think it's okay for you to lecture all of pennsylvania, telling folks they shouldn't get a free cup of coffee because it might influence their decisions as public official and at the same time, you won't address specifically you're sitting down and awarding million dollar contracts to folks who just a couple days before or a couple days after dumped large suches of money -- sums of money into your account and the clients of you law firm and not one time do you even disclose this. isn't that contradictory to your ethics and transparency platform? >> john's characterization or mischaracterization of my record i think speaks more to his ethics and speaks more to his approach to this office than
mine. i have read on the ethics issue, i have read on -- >> that's not the question, mr. shapiro. not the question. >> when i was in the state house of representatives i chaired the legislative reform and put specific ethic plans in place in order to protect our democracy. i have continued to do that as county commission chairman in montgomery county where we put the farthest reaching ethics and procurement policies in place to allow for greater openness and transparency. where rfps and other processes where contracts are awarded are done in public. in the past they were done in the public. everything is out in the open. everything is subject to sunshine and day light. as a result, our government is viewed as a model of ethics, as a model of integrity. john, i'm not lecturing anyone on ethics. i believe our democracy works better when we built it on a foundation of ethics, integrity and reform and that's what i have done throughout my career. >> you didn't answer the question. >> mr. shapiro, ask a question
if you have. >> steve, my question to you recently the mother of sandra bland requested that you stop using footage of her daughter's incident with law enforcement in your television ad. yet you continue to politically ben fit off the video of her daughter refusing to take that ad down. even though clergy in philadelphia, elected african-american leaders have asked you to take it down. my question is, her mother was sitting here in the audience today, what would you say about denying her request to stop showing her daughter sandra bland's image to trying to benefit you politically in this campaign? >> the persons who had a problem of this are all supporters of mr. shapiro. sandra bland's attorney -- let me answer the question. in terms of people across this commonwealth i have been across this commonwealth. i have not heard the same issue. we were -- this should not be a revolution to the people of this commonwealth. officers interact with civilians
a all the time. it didn't take me recently until recently to understand that we have to very, very highly regulate that practice and if the officer or anybody else in the criminal justice system crossed the line then there are ramifications to that we have demonstrated that over and over again in allegheny county. in terms of this matter appearing on tv, it's appeared on tv millions of times. it was a question of this is -- this is an adult game and these are adult issues. and which should address them as adults. again f this is something you see as a revelation, then i don't know what to tell you. maybe this is the wrong office for you to seek. >> thank you. we'll continue on with our questions today. many look for team members who complement their own skills. what skills will you be looking for to complement your own strengths? we begin with you, mr. shapiro? >> when i took over the government in montgomery county i should point out our government in montgomery county
is four times larger than the office of attorney general. steve tried to allude to this before. the budget of the attorney general is about $100 million and the staff is 900 or so. we have 3,000 employees in montgomery county and $400 million budget. when i took over the government as the first democrat to lead it in 150 years, we went through an incredibly professional transition team. and transition process. and what we will do is the same thing in the a.g.'s office. establish the proper structure in order to meet the needs of the people of pennsylvania and bring in the very best of the best. as i alluded to -- as i said earlier my first hire will be a chief diversity officer to make sure that the top echelon they look like the people they represent. and there are people who come from all across pennsylvania. i have always attracted the best of the best to work for me and ultimately for my constituents. will do the same thing as attorney general. >> district attorney zappala?
>> you repeat question. >> sure. >> many look for team members to complement their open skills with that in mind what skills are you looking for in the key positions to complement your strength? >> i think in response to what josh has said there's no correlation between running a county and running a professional prosecutor's office. we are talking about prosecutors, lawyers and we're talking about investigators. i mean, that's entirely different to deciding how many times to cut the grass in this park or salt this road. it's ridiculous. i have heard that over and over. what i have done in my office is we have a very strong morale. and people understand that they will proceed or they will rise in the ranks based upon merit. we recruit and i have had this discussion with the people of philadelphia. we will recruit in the law schools like we recruit in the law schools in pittsburgh. this is not something -- this is something that requires not necessarily background, but requires an expertise in the area that, you know, the assets have to be redirected. so in terms of how we use our
grand juries. i mean, we're going to reconfigure our grand juries and bring in the better people. there will be no leaks to the media. with all due respect to my friends here today. those are criminal matters and they'll be treated as criminal matters. otherwise -- i'm done. >> thank you. district attorney morganelli? >> i know a lot of prosecutors in this state. we're going to recruit the best and the brightest and it will be a diverse group of individuals. when i became d.a. only 1% of the staff was female, now 55% is. we need diversity with gender, race, ethnicity all across the board we need diversity and we need strong prosecutors. i think steve's right. this job is chief law enforcement officer. it runs grand juries. it is not office manager, josh. we're not running montgomery county. this is a job that requires judgment, should which prosecute a case s this grand jury material? a lot of the reasons why ms.
kane got in trouble was because she was not an experienced prosecutor. josh has a lot less experience than ms. kane had. that's what we'll do, bring in the top notch people. >> all right, mr. shapiro? we will allow a rebuttal. >> do i get two rebuttals? listen, there's actually one thing i agree with that john said. you need sound judgment. i demonstrated that throughout my entire career. but you need executive leadership skills and you need a vision. you have to have a plan of what you want to do with the office. as i'm doing here tonight as i have done throughout the whole campaign i have laid out my vision for what i'll do for the people of pennsylvania as the next attorney general. judgment, executive leadership skills which i have and these gentlemen don't. and a vision for what you'll do with the office to benefit the people of pennsylvania. that's what i'll bring to this job. >> next question, contractor scams have repeatedly ranked among the top consumer complaints, yesterday the a.d.'s office admits until last year those scams were not a priority.
specifically, name your top three consumer issues that you will make a priority. district attorney zappala, we begin with you. >> consumer issues. i don't know this is exactly a consumer issue but it came to my attention -- attorney general's office is using an outside law firm to look at the practices in the nursing homes. i would look at how we handle people's lives in the nursing care home. i would replicate the schemes with the new york attorney general's office. obviously wall street is in new york state, and they develop the expertise to handle wall street and investment bankers, hedge funds, that type of thing. i don't think we need outside counsel. i think we need to develop it internally to take care of our democr demographics and senior citizens. i think we need to do better job with mental health. that's not necessarily a consumer issue, but we don't do a good job with that either.
the schemes in place need to be changed. 2,900 persons a day in the allegheny county jail, 40% are on psyche tropic medication. changing how we attack the contractors, we have people in the field all the time. typically identifying senior citizens as targets. we tried to move legislatively in harrisburg. we couldn't get any more tools. >> thank you. morganelli? >> you asked for three. i think you're right, absolutely right. you know, home improvement is a huge issue across the state. as d.a. i deal with it all the time and we prosecute contractors who come in, take someone's money to do an addition and they're gone. or they do half the job and they're done. we have a criminal statute that gives jurisdiction to prosecute the kind of cases. that would be a priority. what i find too often is that the consumer protection division of the a.g.'s office doesn't have enough resources. it doesn't have enough resources to get the job done. so we need to beef that up. second thing there's a lot of
foreign products coming into the country and into pennsylvania. they're dangerous. china brings in a lot of toys that come in. which have lead in them. that cause injuries to kids, we need to crack down on that. thirdly, lots of seniors are getting preyed upon. getting phone calls saying that the irs -- they owe tax money and they have to wire some money to the irs to avoid prosecution. it's scam. we need to track down the scams because i have seen seniors being hurt by that. >> mr. shapiro? >> yes, there's criminal, civil and public protection and for the last decade virtually nothing has happened in the public protection division. when i'm attorney general i will change that and protect the people of pennsylvania. there's a lot of scams going on in pennsylvania, let me focus on three to specifically answer your question. number one, telemarketing fraud against our seniors. we are finding that for every one senior that reports telemarketing fraud, 23 go
unreported. i'll have an office to root out this type of fraud against the senior citizens. second, i have got four young kids, i'm very sensitive to this. kids online. certainly we have to be concerned about predators. we have to be concerned about the websites they go to online. where they're accessing what they think are free apps or free games or free downloads. ultimately it ends charging the parent's credit card a significant amount of money because of the scams online. third, we need to be far more serious about the in home caregivers for the seniors and protect them from fraud as well. >> thank you. >> three former penn state administrators are fighting the charges that they failed to talk about the charges against jerry sandusky. what is your answer to them, we
begin with you, mr. morganelli. >> well, you know that's a case that's ongoing and, you know, i don't know all the facts of the case and it's unfair to comment on a particular case. let me say this. i was in centre county recently. i held a press conference to ask that the next attorney general conduct an investigation into second mile. second mile was an organization started by jerry sandusky, all the victims of his victims came from second mile. back in 2011 when corbett was governor he signed off on the $3 million grant to second mile at a time when he knew it was a front for child abuse. he knew that because he had been attorney general. why did he sign uf on it? is it because he got campaign contributions from the officers of second mile. corbett said i wasn't allowed to speak about it because it was grand jury material. but no one asked him to speak about it. we asked him to defer giving that organization more money. i think that the penn state community is interested in the big investigation and into second mile. and that has never been the focus of any investigation. as far as the other case goes,
it's working through the system and the judge will decide that case. >> time is up. we'll turn to mr. shapiro for his thoughts. >> this is a serious and sensitive issue and there's an ongoing investigation. i think we need to follow the evidence wherever it leads. if it leads to second mile or any other organization. no one will be off limits if i'm attorney general. there will be no sacred cows, no one will be protected. everybody will be equal in the eyes of the law. it goes back to the issue i spoke of earlier, which is the sense of fairness. nothing in pennsylvania should be too big or too out of reach with the law. second mile, or anything else associated with penn state or the sandusky scandal. i think we need to take on the powerful special interests. it's what i have done through my entire career. >> mr. zappala? >> i'm not familiar with the
evidence in the case, but i'm familiar the news report. those prosecutions came out of the grand jury which is a serious issue. and 30 people -- at least initially sat there and listened to the evidence in that case and determined that it was probable cause. at least to recommend to the attorney general that criminal charges be filed. so i would follow the evidence and i have a lot of faith in the criminal justice system -- excuse me the jury system. my concern has always been the nonprofit status of universities. and how money flows through the universities and out to different agencies. and that bothers me. having sat on the board of viewers at the -- when i practiced privately, we were the agency that recommended that the trial -- to the trial courts that a entity who said i'm a nop profit and we would say, yeah, they're a nonprofit or not. there are areas to revisit, and in erie and scranton, where large tracts of real estate have
been eaten up by nonprofits. >> the attorney general's office released a report of decades of abuse by dozens of priests and catholic leaders in altoona-johnstown. a grand jury investigation is being called in every pennsylvania diocese, but for that to happen it has to come from the district attorneys. what could you do in your role? commissioner shapiro? >> i think this clergy abuse case that was unearthed in cambria county i want to commend in particular d.a. callahan and attorney general kane for going after this abuse and shining a light on it. you know, i had the opportunity as chairman of the crime and delinquency to meet with the people and they are helping the survivors who are coming forward, to help the victims of abuse. i'm pleased that we're able to help them, not just in that community but what we're finding as a result of unearthing this.
as a result of shining light on this, we're now in a position to hear from survivors and other victims all across pennsylvania. who now have the courage to come forward. and i think it's important as attorney general that we continue to follow the evidence where it leads, whether it's clergy abuse or otherwise. we have no more important task than to protect our children of pennsylvania. and what happened in the altoona-johnstown area is a horror. but hopefully, something good can come from that as victims come forward and get the help that they need. >> time. district attorney zappala? >> the abuse of children is certainly not limited to the church. or any other aspect of the clergy. when we indict about 600 to 1,000 cases a year of child abuse in allegheny. and that's rather sad. we have talked about this at length. what can the attorney general do? they have done something. i'm not sure what the theories were when they came in, but you
can look at something as a scheme, a racketeering scheme or otherwise and look at the issues that way. i think what's come out of that by the way is a good discussion, a good basis for discussion about the statute of limitations on those matters. i personally have a problem with accusing somebody with the commission of a crime and then not charging somebody with a crime. i think it's wrong. but nonetheless, child abuse is out there. it continues on a regular basis. and i would attack it like we attack it in allegheny county. >> district attorney morganelli? >> well, i was one of the first d.a.'s, maybe the first that actually went and looked at this whole issue in the allentown diocese. the allentown diocese is compromised with five counties and before the grand juries started across pennsylvania, i got the d.a.'s together of lehigh county and carbon and schuylkill county, we got together, and we got in touch
with the diocese. we did an investigation into the allentown diocese. i issued a report, in fact, i delivered the 30-page report, answered all the questions. what we found is what all prosecutors are finding in this matter pretty much. is that a lot of the stuff was old. that it was an institutional cover-up. it was an institutional cover-up, no doubt about it. that the catholic hierarchy covered this up for many, many years. and a lot of the priests that we looked at, were deceased. a lot of victims did not want to come forward and then we're dealing with the statute of limitations issue which is going to be looked at again by the legislature. we should be vigilant and we need to continue the child predator office of the office. >> the fracking industry and -- has provided a lot of jobs for pennsylvania families but at the same time there are companies that may not always follow the rules. attorney general kathleen kane has sued fracking companies over waste water spills and royalties
to the families. how would you handle this? >> i have had the discussions from several counties. fracking hasn't yet started there. for example, in erie county, the chief executive said what can you do to help us? what i would do is indstand with you or without you and i'd talk to the people before hand and i would say we're going to engineer properly. do it on the front end because people are afraid of you polluting the drinking water. if that is not acceptable to our people or the county's people there to watch how the engineering was taking place and what chemicals were being injected into the ground we'd sue them. if they pollute the environment i'll indict them criminally. >> mr. morganelli? >> i agree with josh on this. i think josh has articulated a plan on fracking and approach to
it. i think what he'll find if he is elected attorney general there's a lack of resources in the office of attorney general in the environmental law section. as a district attorney, we refer a lot of these environmental cases to the attorney general's office because we do street crime. we do burglaries, drug cases, murder cases. whenever we send the cases up, what i find is that it's very rare i think josh cited the statistics in one of the forums that you'll see a criminal prosecution. i think that's for two reasons. one is because i don't think they have the resources, maybe even they need more expertise in lawyers that know the environmental law better and what you'll find is that the criminal law that involves -- with protecting the environment, the way it's worded it's a very, very heavy lift. it's a heavy burden for a criminal prosecution and the a.g.'s office may be reluck and the to bring one. i think we can look at some election that -- legislation that will be easier be but aggressive with the existing law
as well. >> over the last 15 years there have been 5,500 violations be i the fracking industry, yet only two have been prosecuted. not all 5,500 should be prosecuted but more than two should have been. our state constitution said we have a right to clean air and pure water. i think this is a constitutional imperative that if the fracking industry is polluting our water in pennsylvania, we need to do something about it as the attorney general. and i will. i will not let the fracking industry get off as they have in past years. here's what i'm going to do about it. number one, it will be a serious focus, we'll beef up our environmental crimes division. it will be a serious focus number two of our public protection division. number three, we're going to work and john alluded to this before on legislation to give more original jurisdiction to the attorney general's office so they can pursue these crimes more easily. number four, we have to improve the cooperation between dep and the attorney general's office.
then finally, five, we need a task force with local district attorneys in affected counties to partner with the attorney general -- >> time. we are going into our speed round and for these questions we only want a yes or no answer. no explanation. just yes or no and each will answer. we'll begin with d.a. morganelli. first question, do you support legalizedd marijuana? >> yes. >> yes. >> yes. >> will you run for another office in the future if elected? >> i have no plans to. >> no. >> no. >> kathleen kane has created a position called solicitor general. it's a second in command of the office and among other leadership duties the person would have the authority to make final executive decisions on all law related activities. will you keep this position and will you keep bruce castor in the role? >> no. >> mr. morganelli? >> no. bruce is a friend. >> no. >> all right.
would you support a ban that would bar all officials from accepting any gifts from special interests? mr. morganelli? >> yes. >> yes. of course. >> yes. >> should there be a term limit for attorney general? mr. shapiro? >> yes. >> yeah. >> i called for a six-year term. yes. >> and a general rule that the prosecutors may not do outside work. do you agree that? >> i do. >> absolutely yes. >> yes. >> and finally, we have an either/or question for you. both democratic candidates are campaigning in pennsylvania this week. who do you support, hillary clinton or bernie sanders? mr. morganelli? >> hillary clinton. >> shapiro, i'm focussed on my own campaign right now. >> i don't know that i have a favorite. >> thank you. well, time is winding down. at this point each of you can offer viewers your closing statement. you have one minute. we ask that you allow each candidate to give their closing statement without any interruption. there will be no opportunities
for rebuttal. >> we determined the order at random by pulling names out of a hat. we begin with mr. zappala. >> thank you. as i said from the outset, i would do as attorney general what i did as district attorney. i'm not promising you anything, you can look at my record and we'll accomplish a lot of things together. i think the office has been stagnant for quite some time. i think there's a great deal of talent there but the professionals in the office have not been able to do what is necessarily needed to do. until fairly recently. when mrs. kane was separated from basically the responsibilities of the office. we have accomplished a great deal of things. i think morale is an issue as i said before. but as long as you put the professionals in the right direction and do the business of the people of pennsylvania and not advance a political agenda. that was one of the reasons i'm running for this, because i say attorney general after attorney general certainly those persons who didn't get indicted they always are looking to become something else. so their interests were not the people of pennsylvania, but
their interests were their own. you already asked the question, i have no interest in being anything other than the attorney general. it would be an honor to be that person. it's a very good office. i think it needs to be restructured in certain respects and reprioritized. >> mr. shapiro? >> thank you. this race comes down to three things. who can restore integrity and fairness to our justice system. number two, who can go in there and clean up the mess and make this most important office work for all pennsylvanians again? and number three, who's going to be a fighter for all pennsylvanians? who's going to stand up to the fracking industry? who's going to protect our educational system? who's going to make our communities safer? i will do that. i'm proud of this campaign. to be endorsed by governor wolf and senator casey and leaders all across pennsylvania from council president clark in philadelphia, to county executive dahl camper in erie county and in between.
i'm proud to be endorsed by president barack obama, but i would be more humbled to earn your vote. i would be most humbled to have your vote on april 26th, to have the opportunity to represent you and your interests as pennsylvania's next attorney general. >> district attorney morganelli? >> thank you. this campaign is not about a compilation of political endorsements, but it's about who has the background and the experience to walk into the difficult situation. i'm pennsylvania's most senior district attorney. i'm the only candidate who actually prosecuted criminal cases in a courtroom. i prosecuted 35 first degree murder cases. none of them have ever prosecuted a case. i have twice appointed to represent northeast pennsylvania i'm the only candidate who represented all of pennsylvania as president of the state d. a association and a six year
member on the commission of crime where i learned the whole system. you know, elections are more about resumes. let's end parole for repeat felon, fix the broken parts making it fairer for the mentally ill and the drug dependent and get guns ouflts the hands of the children and the mentally ill. as attorney general i'll get it done. >> thank you very much. we want to thank the candidates for participating in the live debate tonight and thank the television stations across state for airing this, including the nbc stations in pittsburgh, harrisburg and johnstown, altoona. thank you for watching. >> we want to know what you think. join the conversation on twitter now. using the #paag debate. remember to cast your vote in pennsylvania's primary election less than three weeks from today on tuesday, april 26. if you have xfinity cable this will be available on demand starting tomorrow. thank you. >> good night.
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