Reason for Seeking Public Office:
There's nothing more important to a democracy than the citizens' trust and confidence in those elected to govern.
The election will come down to this: who can lead the office with integrity, who has the judgment and executive experience to clean up a mess, and who has a track record of fighting for our collective values -- and I hope you'll join me in this campaign.
While this letter is lengthier than the typical political announcement, I want you to understand why it is that I've decided to take this step and why I believe I am uniquely qualified to be your next Attorney General.
Throughout my life, I've been dedicated to two things: my family and public service. My wife Lori and I were high school sweethearts and we've been blessed with four incredible children. We want them to grow up and prosper in a democracy they can trust.
My first experience in public service came after graduating from the University of Rochester when I went to Washington and worked for members of the U.S. Senate and House. I eventually went on to serve as Chief of Staff to a member of Congress from Pennsylvania. At night, while I worked full time, I went to Georgetown University where I earned my law degree.
With our two year old, Lori and I moved back home in 2003 to the community where I grew up. While working at a law firm in Philadelphia, I launched an underdog campaign for state Representative in an overwhelmingly Republican district. I knocked on 18,000 doors and listened to my neighbors. My hard work paid off and against the odds and conventional political wisdom, I was elected as a progressive Democrat, defeating a well-known Republican in Montgomery County.
I think it's fair to say that when I got to Harrisburg in 2005 not everyone was glad I had arrived. I became a thorn in the side of those who believed in politics as usual; those who thought that the lines between right and wrong could be changed to suit their political needs.
I was determined to be a champion of good government. I'm proud to have authored the most sweeping ethics reforms in Pennsylvania in generations. I wrote changes to House rules that ended wasteful perks like taxpayer-funded private car leases, fought for greater transparency as a co-author of the Open Records Law, required time for public input before voting on bills so laws weren't passed in secret and I shed light on a $200 million slush fund legislators squirreled away for themselves.
I also led by example. I voted against, refused to accept and led the fight to repeal the infamous "pay-raise" that was passed in the dark of night. Then, when the state was running a $2 billion deficit, I returned my cost-of-living pay increase back to taxpayers.
Five years ago, I ran to change the leadership of Montgomery County, and our victory in that election allowed Democrats to take control of our County government for the first time in 150 years. I became Chairman of the third-largest county in Pennsylvania and in charge of a $389 million budget and over 2,300 employees.
This past November, Montgomery County voters rewarded my efforts to reform the status quo, and I was re-elected with more than 60 percent of the vote. In a county with more registered Republicans than any other in Pennsylvania, we showed that Democrats win when we can govern effectively and ethically.
I'm proud of my record in Montgomery County, turning record deficits into consecutive budget surpluses while making new, critical investments in open spaces, infrastructure, human services, and public safety while reducing debt. We adopted brand new ethics and procurement standards that saved tax dollars, ensured transparency in the system and have been a model for other counties across Pennsylvania.
We stood up for Democratic values, leading the fight against the Corbett Administration's discriminatory Voter ID plan and issuing the first marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples in Pennsylvania. We took on the scourge of heroin infecting our communities, working with the head of the Pennsylvania Police Chiefs Association to devise a strategy for stemming the tide of narcotics overdoses and providing the life-saving Naloxone to first-responders throughout the county.
I'm especially proud that in Montgomery County we put an end to annual taxpayer giveaways to Wall Street bankers. Until we reformed our pension system, Wall Street was charging excessive fees, and limiting the county's rate of return. So we became among the first counties in the U.S. to cut-out the Wall Street middle men, invest in low-fee index funds and boost the returns on our pension investments, saving taxpayers millions of dollars and ensuring stability to our employee's retirement funds. We showed that we could reform our pension system without hurting hard working government employees.
More important than any particular policy or accomplishment, at a time when frustration with government is at an all-time high, we showed that we could make government work. Today, people in Montgomery County are once again proud of their government. It's proof that progressive leadership, built on a foundation of integrity, can restore faith in public service and improve people's lives.
In addition to my work in Montgomery County, I'm honored to serve as the Chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. I've held dozens of meetings and forums across the Commonwealth in the past year. I'm determined to bring common sense reforms to our criminal justice system, protect victims and be smart on crime.
Non-violent offenders, particularly those battling addiction and mental illness, are clogging our prisons and costing us billions of dollars. We need to stop treating diseases as crimes and redouble our efforts to provide treatment and go after those who commit serious crimes and make sure they are punished to the full extent of the law.
Pennsylvania's next Attorney General will face many specific challenges but the most pressing challenge we face today in our justice system is a crisis of confidence, doubts about the administration of justice and the results that follow. From "Bonusgate" to "Kids For Cash" and now to "Porngate" we can't help but feel frustrated with our democracy and its leaders.
I understand the public's frustration because I feel it too. The worst part
the public reaction to each scandal is a combination of outrage and, "well what can you expect?' That attitude allows the status quo to fester, for good people to be denied their rights and for some politicians and purported public servants to hold Pennsylvania back.
We can and must expect more.
As Attorney General, I'll lead the effort to restore integrity to our government. I'll do this by advocating for and adopting tough ethical standards and by looking out for those who often get hurt in the system that is rigged against them.
I'll stand up for consumers who get ripped off. I'll protect seniors and aggressively pursue those who commit fraud and abuse against them. I'll take on the oil and gas drillers to ensure that our communities have safe drinking water -- and I'll join the fight to ensure the drillers pay their fair share for using our resources. I'll never be afraid to stand up and speak out about the plague of illegal guns that get into the hands of criminals and others who shouldn't have them.
I'll hold corrupt officials accountable for their actions and do my part to end the disgraceful behavior that has besmirched our commonwealth. We will arrest those who break the laws and draw clear lines for our politicians to follow.
I believe deeply in the value of public service and want to make this commonwealth stronger for my family and yours. I have a long track record of doing what's right and proven over time that I have the judgment and know-how to get the job done.
Throughout my career, people have told me that the challenges before me were too hard, too entrenched to fix. The more they tell me its impossible to fix, the more motivated I am to surround myself with smart, ethical people, build a coalition, lay out a strategy and see it through. The task before me, to rebuild the Office of Attorney General and restore integrity to our justice system is no doubt immense but it's a challenge that in many ways I've been preparing for my entire professional life.
I am looking forward to campaigning across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to listen to your ideas, address your concerns and earn your vote.