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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, January 24, 2008

John Morganelli AG Campaign Announcement: Full Text

Below is the text of John Morganelli's announcement of his candidacy for state attorney general. I oppose his stance on illegal aliens, but it's only a very small part of his overall agenda. One small point. John, where the hell did you get that "let me make one thing clear" phrase? Seriously. And I saw the "secondly," but where's the firstly?

Dude, hire a speechwriter! And make sure it's not Angle.

Today, I am officially announcing my candidacy for the office of Pennsylvania Attorney General. The recent show of support and unanimous endorsement from the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee has convinced me that the time is right for me to make another try at becoming Pennsylvania Attorney General.

I believe that I am now, more than ever, prepared to lead Pennsylvania as the state’s chief law enforcement officer. I have been a state prosecutor for 16 years. During that time I have personally prosecuted numerous first degree murder cases to juries all resulting in convictions and the imposition of life without parole sentences. I have been a "tough on crime" DA, seeking long hard sentences for violent criminals and sex offenders.

I also have been a leader in Pennsylvania's criminal justice system. My service as President of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and President of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Institute for 2 years, as well as my 5 years of service on the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency has given me firsthand knowledge about the problems and potential of our criminal justice system. And, I have been called upon often to give testimony before legislative committees of both the state house and senate on a wide range of issues including the death penalty, illegal immigration, gun violence, the insanity defense, judicial power as well as other issues.

The next Attorney General should develop an agenda for action and provide the leadership to execute it. This agenda must have specific initiatives that have four primary objectives:

1. Enhance Public Safety;

2. Promote a “Tough on Crime” Public Policy;

3. Advance the Rights of Individual Citizens; and

4. Implement Internal Initiatives to Improve the OAG and Better Assist State District Attorneys in the Conviction and Punishment of Criminals.

Where legislative action is necessary to promote the aforesaid goals, the AG must use his “bully pulpit” to advance the legislation, and use his power to promulgate regulations to implement policy.

Public safety is always paramount for the chief law enforcement officer of the state. Specifically, gun violence in our communities must be addressed in a serious way. This is not just a Philadelphia problem. Across Pennsylvania, from Erie and Pittsburgh to Harrisburg, through our rural communities, from Williamsport to Lancaster, York, Reading, Allentown, Norristown, Media and Chester, just to name a few, gun violence threatens our sense of security and weakens our communities. We need new approaches. These approaches must be punitive and preventive; progressive, yet practical. And, lastly, they must be effective, and constitutional.

Over the course of this campaign, I will outline specifically my plan to deal with the easy access and proliferation of hand guns into the hands of criminals, young children, and the mentally ill. Without question, gun violence is one of the most important public safety issues facing Pennsylvania communities.

At a minimum, we need to pass a gang statute in Pennsylvania. This is something I have advocated for years. Criminal gangs play a large role in the violence on our streets as they deal drugs, steal cars, commit robberies and use gun violence to engage in their turf wars. Pennsylvania is one of a number of states without a gang statute. But we need to be aggressive. We cannot pass a law that is weak and ineffective just to say we have one. We need to makes it a crime just being a member of a criminal gang and make it known that gang membership alone will result in stiff jail sentences. This will allow law enforcement to aggressively go after the young thugs who terrorize our communities, and breakup and put out of business a culture of gang worship and membership. We should not wait for the next homicide, robbery or drug deal. It is time to attack the nests of the gangs, and I believe that with leadership from the attorney general, we can carefully craft a statute that will pass constitutional muster to make gang membership itself a crime. Breaking up criminal street gangs in our cities will strike a major blow to gun violence.

Secondly, I will create a Gun Trafficking Unit in OAG. This unit will be dedicated to multi-county illegal gun trafficking that will work in conjunction with local police and district attorneys in targeted, high violence areas of Pennsylvania.

Third, the attorney general must lead the effort to convince the legislature to pass legislation that requires the reporting of stolen/lost firearms. Car owners are required to report a stolen vehicle. Why should we require anything less from a firearm owner? This would eliminate “cover” for those who illegally sell guns to criminals and then later claim their gun was stolen when it shows up in the commission of a crime.

Public safety does not involve only criminal matters. The attorney general also has a responsibility to protect the public from dangerous goods and services. The consumer protection division of the OAG should do exactly as its title suggests- protect consumers. Recently, we have seen a flood of dangerous, toxic products from China. The rush by American business to find cheap labor in China and other foreign countries to enhance corporate profits has been at the expense of the American consumer in terms of safety and quality. Cheap labor and lax to no public safety standards have resulted in dangerous products. Unsafe products from China, ranging from toys, to toothpaste, seafood to pet food, has accounted for more than 60% of the recalls in 2007. Lead and other dangerous materials in these products threaten the health and welfare of all of us, particularly our children.

For the most part, those responsible for the faulty products and bad food have denied the problems saying their products are safe. Chinese officials have, however, admitted that their current food and safety situation is not satisfactory. We need to send a loud clear message to China, other foreign countries and businesses that these unsafe, junk products are not welcome.

As Attorney General, I will initiate civil litigation directly against the businesses, and foreign countries themselves, if necessary, that deliver dangerous products to us, to recoup money damages and put an end to the importation of unsafe products.

As attorney general, I will also continue a “tough on crime” public policy that I have advanced as district attorney. I will lead the effort to abolish parole for violent criminals and sex offenders, and end pre-release programs at our state prisons to assure that criminals actually serve their entire sentence in jail as ordered by the judge. And, I will continue, as I have done as DA, to crack down on illegal aliens who have no respect for our laws, who use fraudulent identities and documents to maintain their illegal presence, who commit crime in our communities, and who illegally access public benefits at the expense of taxpayers.

Being tough on crime also means being tough on public corruption. The Republicans have controlled the office of attorney general for 28 straight years including 5 years by the present attorney general. In those 28 years we have seen one republican attorney general go to jail, and the others disengaged as public corruption flourished in Pennsylvania.

Now, we have the present republican attorney general mired in conflicts of interest as he tries to do a balancing act between investigating public corruption while at the same time not offending Republican political and financial supporters. The so-called “bonus-gate investigation” has witnessed search warrants issued for democratic offices, but not republican offices. Meetings held between the attorney general and his staff with republican leaders at the outset of the investigation, to hear how bonuses were awarded, but no such meetings with the democratic leadership. Let me make one thing clear: if any public official used tax dollars to award individuals for partisan, political work, they need to be held accountable regardless of party affiliation. But we must have an independent investigation. Former Republican legislative leaders, who presided over the awarding of huge bonuses, also gave thousands and thousands of dollars to the current attorney general’s campaign committee. It is well established that prosecutors are prohibited by ethical prohibitions from investigating their friends or their political opponents. I have called for the appointment of an independent prosecutor, one who is not tied politically or financially to any of the legislative present or past leadership. The attorney general has declined to do so.

My disagreement with the attorney general on this issue should not be construed as questioning his integrity. I do not. But I do question his judgment. The conflicts of interest on the part of the AG with respect to this investigation are so clear that the failure to so appoint an independent prosecutor threatens the investigation itself and potential prosecutions. I have also called for the reauthorization of the Independent Counsel Act which in the past provided the legal mechanism to assure that we have independent investigations of corrupt public officials particularly when the AG may be conflicted as is the case here. Originally passed in 1998, the law sunset in 2003 and needs to be law again to assure unbiased, apolitical investigations and prosecutions of public corruption.

As attorney general, I will appoint an independent counsel to evaluate both republicans and democrats role in “bonusgate”, restore confidence in the investigation, and fight to reauthorize the "Independent Counsel Act" to go after public corruption in the future.

The attorney general should also be a leader for individual rights, and protect our citizens from unlawful and unscrupulous practices. Over the course of this campaign, I will outline specifically my plans to deal with a number of issues that affect the individual rights of Pennsylvania citizens.

At a minimum, however, I will use all the powers at the disposal of the attorney general to do the following:

1. End Predatory Lending – a practice that preys upon those who can least afford it with devastating results.

2. Establish oversight of HMO and other health insurance organizations to stop abuses and fraudulent denials of health insurance coverage

3. Assure that Pennsylvania citizens are not the victims of price gouging at gas pumps while oil companies buy off politicians and amass unconscionable profits on the back of the middle class.

Lastly, internally, the office of attorney general needs a restructuring and a transfusion. One of my goals as Attorney General will be to establish the OAG as a "top notch" legal agency of state government. To accomplish this, a complete review of the presently constituted office is necessary to identify strengths and weaknesses, and to introduce new concepts to the OAG. Upon taking office, I will do the following:

A comprehensive financial and performance audit will be requested to identify and correct any problem areas and evaluate effectiveness.

A Resource Task Force will be commissioned consisting of volunteers of private attorneys and other professionals to act in an advisory role for a limited period of time to review management issues and the delivery of legal services in an efficient and cost effective manner.

A Formal Prosecutor Assistance Program will be established to assist state district attorneys who often turn to the OAG for help when they have limited resources, conflicts of interest or need specialized expertise. A formal prosecutor assistance program with additional lawyers and investigators would better service state DA's.

An Internet Crime Resource Center will be established to assist state prosecutors who are dealing more and more with crimes involving the Internet and who are often in need of assistance. The AG should be a training and information clearinghouse which directly assists prosecutors and police with prosecutions, strategic planning and identification of resources necessary to address such crimes.

I begin this campaign with a clear understanding of the task ahead. Pennsylvania has never elected a democrat to the office of attorney general. Republicans have controlled this office for 28 straight years. But I am confident that 2008 will be a history making year as Pennsylvanians seek change in Harrisburg. Change is needed. New strategies and approaches will provide an exciting agenda for action that will recognize the traditional role of the OAG, but will also expand the role of the AG making it more relevant and effective than in the past. With the support of friends and family, I begin with confidence, and look forward to bringing my message of change to Pennsylvania communities.
Update: John Micek's account of Morganelli's announcement, published by The Morning Call, is located here. The Express Times story, written by crime reporter Russ Flanagan, is located here.


Anonymous said...

Reminds me of BUSH!

Blah Society said...

But Morganelli doesn't need the pictures - he can read the words... I think.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if John checked the immigration status of the "colored" kids in the photo? You never know where the next indigent Circle Systems employee is lurking.

sliding ed said...

When our child was 7 years he revealed that he was sexually assaulted by his first grade teacher. We filed a Police report with Colonial Regional Police and than were required to meet with Detective Hammer and Morganelli's assistant DA. In confidence and trust our son made his statement in Morganelli's Office. A bogus investigation followed along with a conflicting police report made by Detective Gary Hammer. Since they were not going to move forward in this case this Police report was supposed to be sealed and kept confidential, instead it was distributed through the mail. According to the Northampton Schools district response they stated they got a copy from Morganelli's Office. This confidential police report by my son and many other 6 and 7 year old children's statements which included full names and addresses have been made public. The Teacher was transferred when Detective Hammers son was placed in this Teachers first grade pod. When we confronted Morganelli he stated his office did not distribute this report and said there is no need for an investigation on how this confidential report was made public. Morganalli stated 6 and 7 year old children do not make good witnesses, even though he knew the school district witheld and gave false information.
Through our experience this police report was not kept confidential! Answers are still left open and the cover-up continues.