Attorney General Debate
Pennsylvania Progressive Summit
February 10, 2012n
Arch St. United Methodist Church
Democratic Candidates Kathleen Granaham Kane (former Assistant District Attorney in Lackawana County) and PatrickMurphy (former Congressman from Bucks County). Moderator: Michael Morrill of Keystone Progress.
Two minute opening and closing statements. Questions alternate between candidates, with a 1.5 minute response and a 30 second rebuttal (note: there wasn’t always a rebuttal).
Caveat: I was scribbling notes using a book as a desk. My handwriting is not especially neat at the best of times and after a few days can be tricky even for me to interpret. Should you see anything that looks out of place, please confirm with the campaign. As always, I apologize in advance for any errors or misconceptions.
Blogger’s note: The catch(phrase) of the day seemed to be, from the Kane campaign: I’m a prosecutor not a politician. From Murphy: I’m a leader who will fight the big fights. Murphy is a more relaxed campaigner, no doubt due to experience. Kane seems a little stiff but that might improve over the course of the campaign. A straw poll vote was taken at the debate; results were announced the next morning, with Murphy the winner.
K: The AG is the chief law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth. As the Assistant District Attorney of Lackawanna County I prosecuted child sexual abuse, elder abuse. We need a prosecutor not a politician in the AG office. The AG needs to know the laws of the Commonwealth.
M: This is our 4th debate. We’re at a crossroads. Our progressive values are at stake. Some AGs push a right wing agenda, some don’t do much, others do everything possible to make people’s lives better, take on the fights, the right to choose, environmental issues, fight wherever – the street, boardroom or Harrisburg. Integrity and guts.
Q1: What have done to help working people organize?
M: Supported rights of workers every day of my life. Grew up in NE Philly, father a police officer for 20+ years, have fought for workers’ rights, Free Choice Act, fight for living wage, need a leader to fight for working men and women.
K: Growing up father worked for Loudon Hill, lost job, then worked as a janitor, became shop steward (?) for AFSCME, spent time in courtroom not Congress, good wages for good people.
Q2: [quoting specific law], vouchers?
K: Public school education funding cut, brother is a teacher, crime will go up, between 3:30 and 6:30 crime goes up if kids don’t have something to do, public / private partnership, link education to law enforcement. Education is cornerstone of community.
M: The PA Constitution forbids it unless there is a 2/3 vote, need leaders to stand up for education. Taught at West Point, sister teaches 6th grade.
Q3: raise social justice issues?
M: Absolutely important to go after crime where it happens, also need to be consumer advocate. That is my background, fought for Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, especially protect seniors, most vulnerable.
AG is consumer advocate for PA.
K: AG has 700 employees, 17 offices in 6 regions, crime biggest section. Consumer protection another part. Not rhetoric, needs to be reality. Consumer protection is theft. Have prosecuted many cases, head of insurance fraud unit. Need to do more, been a prosecutor.
M: Co-sponsored CFPB, added amendment to protect seniors
K: Murphy done well in introducing bills. I was in the courtroom. Have the laws but they’ve been dormant.
Q4: Art 1 Sec 1 Constitution, what does it mean?
K: All people are equal, justice for all. Because a prosecutor, because believe in law, right over wrong. AG last line of justice in that courtroom. Doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, justice for all. Prosecuted judges.
M: Treat all equally. I too have prosecuted cases, in the military and in federal cases. My opponent thought Corbett did such a good job she wrote him a personal check. Can give speeches but records needs to be clear.
K: Did write a check for Corbett when he was running for re-election as AG. At least I didn’t vote for George Bush. I’ve practiced in PA courtrooms.
M: You wrote a $10K check to Lackawanna Co DA, not the same as an absentee ballot 12 years ago while in the military.
Q5: Art 1, Sec 28 PA Constitution, pertains to same sex marriage?
K: I believe in same sex marriage. Legislator made it political. 19 year career as an attorney, fought for all those years. Supported Republican as DA because the Democratic candidate had never been in the courtroom.
M: Need an AG who will fight. Either believe in values and fight for them or not.
K: Protect kids against abuse, those are big fights over values. Office for prosecutor.
Q6: fracking and HB 1950, local control.
K: Fracking needs to have full disclosure. Close loopholes. No reason chemicals pumped in ground and we don’t’ know what they are. We need regulations. Make sure legislators propose right regulations.
M: HB 1950 set aside that says people have to apply for redress to Public Utility Commission. Corbett a disappointment on environment. If put safety in jeopardy should go to jail. Cases where people intentionally put fracking water in to water. Should go to jail. I will be a fighter.
K: That’s what happens when politics takes over. Need a prosecutor not a politician.
M: My opponent supported Corbett for AG re-election. My record is clear. Two Democrats in the House supported the Frack Act – Sestak and me.
Q7: PA constitute vague about AG duties. Define..
M: PA AG is people’s protector. Tough on crime and fight for values we believe in. Environmental crime. Consumer protection. An active AG can make a different in everyday people’s lives.
K: [cites law on AG duties]: chief law enforcement officer. Need to know PA law. I have practiced them. Patrick wants to say I’m a bad Democrat. If you want a politician vote for Patrick. If you want a prosecutor vote for me.
M: Not just Corbett. You can give money to anyone you want but you can’t say one thing and do another.
K: [jab at Murphy on immigration, referring to a previous debate]
Q8: women’s health
K: In courtroom not Congress, protect women who have been raped, found justice for them. They didn’t care what my politics were or who I wrote checks to. I’m a pro-choice candidate.
M: Women have a right to choose, right to privacy. My actions will reflect that right. I was invited to speak at NARAL a few days ago. PA passed a bill that will close 20 out of 22 clinics. You have to be willing to fight every step of the way.
Q9: 1200 people shot and killed in PA each year. Illegal handguns.
M: Fight big fights – take on special interested. I believe in the 2nd amendment, own a gun. But not an AK47. I’ve seen what an AK47 can do to the human body. It’s not pretty. In Philadelphia 236 people murdered last year. Need a leader who will take on special interests.
K: Been with police, FBI, been to murder scenes. Make sure programs continue, like Handgun [task force?]. Have a permitting problem in PA. Need to make sure systems speaking to each other. Need to know PA laws. Patrick voted against DC handgun law.
M: That law wasn’t constitutional. Have to be consistent. 1 handgun a month.
K: It only takes one handgun. Need practical solutions from people have been on the street.
Q10: Proposed law, NRA can sue localities
K: need lost and stolen laws to stop straw purchases. Not an infringement on 2nd amendment. Bound by law to report a theft.
M: That bill was outrageous. Lets NRA sue and get triple damages. Cities won’t take on NRA. I’ve been on the streets. My dad, uncle, cousins are cops. Been a Judge Advocate General in military. Prosecuted criminals here and overseas.
K: Respect Patrick’s work. Issue is need to know PA laws.
M: Went to law school in PA. Practiced law here for years. Not just knowing law but fighting laws under attack now.
Q11: Sandusky. What would you have done differently?
M: As a prosecutor took out a high level Navy commander who molested a 7 year girl. If elected will do a top to bottom review. If anyone slow-walked that investigation they will have to answer for it. Need to make sure have secure statewide database and strengthen mandatory reporting and get rid of time limits.
K: Testimony of one victim is enough. Corbett said one victim not enough to bring charges. I would have investigated promptly. Have never put a sexual abuse case before a grand jury. Takes too long.
M: At 15th and Chestnut St. there is a child advocacy center. Need more of those.
K: Would have more if then if there was a $5 fee [missed this] to employ trained doctors and [missed this]. Bill held up.
Q12: been part of [missed this, but I think it is the case against the Affordable Health Care Act] suit?
K: No, purely politically motivated. If elected will take PA out.
M: I agree
Q13: HB 934, voter ID
M: Bill is wrong. Takes away rights of elderly, college students and others who don’t have ID. Should fight against voter fraud. But this basically disenfranchises people. Extreme right wing agenda.
K: Violation of civil rights of everyone in PA. Patrick is right that it’s a suppression. Affects elderly the most. Their id isn’t valid or they don’t know where it is. Who’s next?
Q14: A Democrat has never been elected in PA. How to defeat a Republican?
K: Go toe to toe with the Republican nominee. He has a law and order record. Need a Democratic
candidate with a law and order record. Even Democrats are voting for the Republican law and order candidate. Need most qualified. I’m the only qualified prosecutor in the Democratic primary.
M: Critically important. Will put my life and prosecutorial experience against R candidate. We will take the fight to the GOP. R candidate is Dave Freed. Environmental crime, budget cuts, need to let people know. Fight for progressive values.
K: Voters want to know how often you’ve been in PA courtrooms. My record can stand up to Rs.
M: Four years ago we had a county DA who stood up to Corbett. Kathleen supported Corbett. I have a large number of Facebook and twitter followers. Need grassroots support.
Q15: Support legislation to prevent AG from running for governor
M: yes, should have had it four years ago.
K: yes AG should be the destination not the journey. Will pledge not to run for governor.
Q16: Protect citizens from corporate malfeasance.
K: Limits on campaign spending and special interest. I’ve self-funded my campaign $2million. Shows independent, not beholden.
M: Process now completely tainted. Not taking corporate money, supported DISCLOSE ACT. Can’t self-fund though, but did receive $1.5 million from 2500 donors. If elected will do everything to change process.
K: I didn’t take $170,000 in PAC money. Time to elect Democratic AG, only candidate qualified.
M: I’m also qualified.
Q17: Protect non-US citizens.
M: Immigration a problem, secure borders. Employers exploit illegal immigrants. AG cracks down. Of the 19 soldiers in the 82nd Airborne killed in Iraq, one was not a citizen, here on green card. Need to do what is right.
K: Immigration laws need to be reformed. I will enforce all of the laws. Strengthen borders. Can’t deport everyone. Need a career path to citizenship. AG enforces the laws.
M: Don’t deport everyone.
Q18: limits on local government, especially environmental regs
K: If local governments given regulations they wouldn’t have to make their own. But a farm might be in multiple municipalities. Need laws and regulations to protect air and water. State government has regulations needed to protect people.
M: It is broken. Marcellus shale is “big footing.” Now people have to go through PUC. Need to do what is take sot keep environment safe. Need an AG who will fight.
K: Need to make sure any bill passed prevents municipality from complaining.
M: Justice system gives a voice to everyone.
Q19: AG serves on pardon board. What are your qualifications for this?
M: Case by case basis. In PA 78% of inmates don’t have a high school diploma. Now a 2 year wait to get GED. Need a leader who makes sure legislators understand what bill will do.
K: Qualification is chief law enforcement official. Worked with law enforcement. Need to know PA laws of parole and pardon. Need to now what crimes have high recidivism rate.
M: Important to have an AG who understands what works and doesn’t, who will fight.
K: being on the street with police officers is protecting them.
Q20: non-violent drug offenders
K: Usually a possession charge. Addicts. Treat root of the problem.
M: Simple possession in non-violent sense should go to drug court, heroin and meth are serious issues. Partner with law enforcement and community leaders. Be proactive, alternative courts.
K: time to walk the walk. Sat through drug court. Make sure every county had resources for drug court.
Q21: AG duty on environment
M: rights to clean air and water under attack. Over 3300 violations, over 2000 have direct impact on environment. Must do everything possible to fight special interests. Need a leader and fight big fights.
K: AG’s office has an environmental office, understaffed and under utilized. Need to be a proactive.
M: Let’s look at record. Zero prosecutions. Why do they continue to look the other way?
Q22: If opponent elected how would you feel?
K: Hope we elect a Democrat. I believe I’m the best candidate. Hope we all turn out to vote.
M: Democrats need to win this race. Campaigning is not easy. I believe my skillset is better. But must come together after the primary.
M: Same points used against Bobby Kennedy – too young and inexperienced. Don’t just prosecute but set priorities for office. That’s why for first time civil rights laws enforced. First to admit I’m no Bobby Kennedy. Ask who will fight the big fights.
K: next AG will try Sandusky case. Now you have a choice. Who will you choose? Choose a prosecutor who has experience prosecuting sex offenders. Not just leadership, but need prosecutorial skills.