Josh Shapiro sworn in as Pa. Attorney General

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The fourth person to serve as Pennsylvania's attorney general since August was sworn in Tuesday, promising to make integrity a priority at the scandal-plagued agency. (WPVI)

The fourth person to serve as Pennsylvania's attorney general since August was sworn in Tuesday, promising to make integrity a priority at the scandal-plagued agency.

Democrat Josh Shapiro, formerly a state representative and Montgomery County commissioner, said "a lack of faith in our justice system" has long been a challenge for democracy.

"We will, in fact, rise to this challenge," Shapiro said after taking the oath of office in a packed concert hall a block from the Capitol. "We will, in fact, apply the law without fear or favor and infuse integrity in all that we do so that we can focus on best protecting you."

Two other Democrats were also sworn in to statewide elected offices on Tuesday - Joe Torsella became treasurer, and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale began a second term. Torsella has served as a deputy mayor in Philadelphia, chairman of the State Board of Education and chief executive of the National Constitution Center. DePasquale is a former state representative from York.

Shapiro takes over a vast and powerful agency that has been reeling from the arrest and conviction last year of Attorney General Kathleen Kane on charges she leaked secret grand jury material and lied about it under oath. Kane, who did not attend Shapiro's swearing in, was sentenced to 10 to 23 months but is free on bail while she pursues appeals.

Shapiro said the impact of the state's opioid and heroin drug crisis is among the pressing issues he plans to address, promising to "take this fight from the street corners to the board rooms."

Other priorities he named include protecting consumers, reducing gun violence, improving the environment and overseeing charities.

"We must not allow ourselves to become accustomed to corruption in Pennsylvania," Shapiro said. "We will investigate, we will root it out and we will hold public officials accountable."

After Kane quit, she was succeeded by her top deputy, Bruce Castor, and then by Bruce Beemer, who was appointed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and quickly confirmed by the Republican-controlled state Senate. Beemer will return to his previous position as Wolf's inspector general.

Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin, who supported Shapiro in his successful campaign against state Sen. John Rafferty, the Republican candidate, said the opioid problem may be Shapiro's most pressing problem.

"He's well on his way, I think, to resurrecting the office and restoring integrity to it," Martin said.

DePasquale promised to work to protect children, push for more testing of backlogged rape kits and fight the opioid crisis.

Torsella succeeds Timothy Reese, who was chosen by Wolf to serve out the term of Democrat Rob McCord, who stepped down as treasurer in 2015 before pleading guilty to federal attempted extortion charges.

Related Topics:
politicspa. newsattorney general
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