Josh Shapiro was sworn in Tuesday as Pennsylvania’s 6th elected Attorney General, vowing to ensure integrity, safeguard Pennsylvanians’ rights, health and safety, and tackle the heroin and opioid epidemic in a comprehensive way.
“While I thank the more than 3 million Pennsylvanians who voted for me and entrusted me with this awesome responsibility, I want everyone to know, that I will be the Attorney General for all Pennsylvanians,” Shapiro said in prepared remarks to a crowd of more than 800 people at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in Harrisburg. “I will protect each and every Pennsylvanian and the principles that our great Commonwealth was founded upon. That is the public trust that I just swore to uphold, preserve and protect and I will do so with every fiber of my being.”
Here are other selected highlights of Attorney General Shapiro’s swearing-in speech:
-- On restoring integrity to the Office of Attorney General: “Tomorrow, I’ll join all our staff in signing a new Code of Conduct. I’m appointing a new Chief Integrity Officer to guide our efforts. Ensuring that every voice is heard is a critical component of integrity, so I’m also appointing a Chief Diversity Officer to make sure our office looks like Pennsylvania. … We will rise to this challenge, apply the law without fear or favor and infuse integrity in all that we do so that we can focus on best protecting you.”
-- On becoming the “People’s Attorney General:” “The people I met when I campaigned all across our great Commonwealth had a great impact on me. …
“I’ve continued listening to Pennsylvanians during my transition, hearing the complexities of the challenges they face, and giving everyone a seat at the table. The stories they’ve shared with me are the stories of everyday Pennsylvanians.
“Many of the people I met along the way wonder who will look out for their interests in these unpredictable times.
“Let me be very clear—I won’t be afraid to stand up to anyone who threatens your rights— whether it’s the President of the United States or the person on the street corner. Anyone who tries to roll back your rights will have to come through me.”
-- On combating the heroin and opioid epidemic: “One of the most clear and present threats we face is the thousands of lives we are losing each year to heroin and opioids.
“It is ravaging our communities from Allentown to Erie. In rural, suburban and urban Pennsylvania, no one is immune.
“Just last week at a community forum in Johnstown, I spoke with their DA about a young couple who overdosed on heroin and while their bodies laid dead in their home, their 5 month old daughter – starved to death in her crib before they were found.
“We need a comprehensive plan. We must understand the difference between a non-violent drug addict who is suffering from a disease and needs treatment and the drug dealer who needs to be locked up.
“Doctors need to stop overprescribing these addictive drugs and pharmaceutical companies’ marketing and trade practices and insurance company coverage must be examined. They are part of the problem and must be part of the solution.
“We will partner with all 67 DAs and area AGs because dealers aren't constrained by municipal or state boundaries and we shouldn’t be either. Law enforcement cannot operate in silos, and we will partner together at full strength to fight this crisis. I’ve already spoken with Attorneys General in Michigan, Maryland, New York and West Virginia around ways we can collaborate.
“We will take this fight from the street corners to the board rooms and we will make a difference.”
-- On fighting scams against consumers, seniors and veterans: “Scammers who fleece Pennsylvania seniors out of about $1 billion a year must not be allowed to rob families of their savings, seniors of their nest egg, veterans of the benefits they've earned defending our nation. This will be a top priority and we will make it clear to the scammers that Pennsylvania is not open for their business.”
-- On rooting out public corruption: “You’ve demanded better from our public officials, and so will I. We must not allow ourselves to become accustomed to corruption.
“So let me be very clear, we will not tolerate the corrosive effects of public corruption.
“We will investigate it, root it out, and hold people accountable.”
-- On ensuring no Pennsylvanian’s voice is forgotten: “As we leave here today, know that I am humbled by the confidence you've shown in me, motivated by your stories and prepared for the massive task before us. Know that your voices are heard, and that no Pennsylvanian will be forgotten.”
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