Do Something

Vote in the primary April 23

The primary election is coming up on Tuesday, April 23, and the general election is on Tuesday, November 5. Make sure you are registered to vote and cast your ballot!  Here is everything you need to know about how to vote.


Join Us at Our Next Event

Ultimate Job Interview: PA Attorney General Race

On Monday, March 25, at the Fitler Club Ballroom, join The Philadelphia Citizen, 6abc, WURD, and Spotlight PA for a free public event where a panel of expert moderators, including 6abc’s Matt O’Donnell, will interview our 2024 Pennsylvania attorney general candidates, including:

Eugene DePasquale, former auditor general

Keir Bradford-Grey, former Philadelphia chief public defender

Jack Stollsteimer, Delaware County district attorney

Jared Solomon, Northeast Philly state representative

Joe Khan, former Bucks County solicitor

There will be a reception from 5:30 to 6pm followed by the interview program from 6 to 8pm.  Attendance is free, but registration is required.


Get Involved

Engaged citizens strengthen democracy

One of the founding tenets of The Philadelphia Citizen is to get people the resources they need to become better, more engaged citizens of their city.

We hope to do that in our Good Citizenship Toolkit, which includes a host of ways to get involved in Philadelphia — whether you want to contact your City Councilmember about the challenges facing your community, get those experiencing homelessness the goods they need, or simply go out to dinner somewhere where you know your money is going toward a greater good.

Find an issue that’s important to you in the list below, and get started on your journey of A-plus citizenship.

Vote and strengthen democracy

Stand up for marginalized communities

Create a cleaner, greener Philadelphia

Help our local youth and schools succeed

Support local businesses


To a special edition of CitizenCast

Welcome to the interview edition of Larry’s story

And go here for more events, interviews and audio articles from CitizenCast

“What Does AG Stand For? Aspiring Governor”

Checking in with former Governor Tom Corbett, who spent 10 years as attorney general, on the one question he would ask this year’s AG candidates at our March 25 forum

“What Does AG Stand For? Aspiring Governor”

Checking in with former Governor Tom Corbett, who spent 10 years as attorney general, on the one question he would ask this year’s AG candidates at our March 25 forum

Earlier this week, The Philadelphia Citizen announced that we’re holding an Ultimate Job Interview of the candidates for PA attorney general, in partnership with 6abc, Spotlight PA and WURD. You’ll recall we did this for last year’s mayoral primary, to much acclaim. Arguably, this year’s race for attorney general is even more important than that election, for reasons I explain here.

So, in anticipation of the March 25 forum, I reached out to former PA Governor Tom Corbett, who not only served two consecutive terms as attorney general, he was also appointed to the position in the 90s for a couple of years. No one has more experience — and I wanted to mine it to inform our “interview” of the candidates in a couple of weeks.

The governor teaches law at Duquesne University and has spent a lot of time of late trying to educate election lawyers and officials in advance of this fall’s electoral D-Day. As when he held public office, Corbett remains affable, yet no-nonsense. You can tell he’s a teacher now, given his penchant for Socratic questioning, which tested me.

What follows is a condensed and edited transcript of our conversation.

Larry Platt: Governor, thank you for taking the time. Before we get to the AG race, you and former Governor Ridge and others have been collaborating on a great project. Can you tell us about it?

Yes, for the last year we’ve been doing Keep Our Republic, a nonpartisan, yet bipartisan, effort to try and restore some trust to the election process — particularly from election night to January the 6th. We’re educating lawyers as to how the process works, because a lot of people, even the media, don’t know how it works, right? What the different stages are. So we’re trying to get into that. And I’ve been traveling the state; I’ve given continuing legal education to about eight different classes of election lawyers. We’re trying to get people to focus on it now rather than, you know, wait until it occurs, in November.

That’s wonderful. You know, I reached out because I was shocked that no one’s really paying attention to what could be one of the most important races in the country — our attorney general election. And who better to talk to about the importance of the office than you. People remember you as a former governor, but you were actually the attorney general — twice, right?

Yes, in ’95, I was appointed after Ernie Preate had some difficulties with the federal government for actions that took place before he was attorney general. He resigned and Governor Ridge asked if I would take the appointment, but promise that I would not run in 1996. So I kept that promise.

And then you came back and served two distinguished terms, from 2005 until 2011. So let’s begin with a very elementary question: What is the job of attorney general?

Well, have you looked at the attorney general’s website? The duties of the attorney general are listed right there. It’s the commonwealth’s chief law enforcement officer. And it goes into great detail. You collect by suit and otherwise all debts, taxes and accounts due to the commonwealth, represent the commonwealth and law agencies in any action brought by or against the commonwealth, you administer the provisions relating to consumer protection and antitrust laws. That’s just a summary. There’s a lot more beyond that.

The first part of that was “chief law enforcement officer.” And I think that’s clearly what you were. Across the nation, we’ve kind of gotten away from that these last few years where district attorneys and attorneys general have started to see themselves almost as agents of social change.

You’re right. Before I was attorney general, I was a United States Attorney and had been an assistant U.S. attorney and assistant district attorney. That’s my background, in law enforcement. Okay. But let me ask you what social event in law took place in 1995 that started changing the whole thing?

Hmmm. I couldn’t tell you.

The tobacco litigation began. [That showed] the focus of attorney generals can now be more than just criminal prosecutors and civil lawyers. They can become proactive, right? In addition to that, the politics got into it. RAGA and DAGA started to form — the Republican Attorney General Association and the Democratic Attorney General Association. When I came back in 2005, they were very active when it came to fundraising. There weren’t a lot of people that wanted to fundraise for attorney general, auditor general or treasurer candidates. But RAGA and DAGA made attorney general a very good starting place for people running for other offices.

You know what AG stands for, right?

Um … attorney general?

Aspiring governor.”

[Laughter] Yes, I remember when [former New York Governor] Eliot Spitzer used the office as a populist platform, taking on Wall Street, to become governor in New York. That seemed to start a trend.

He was a part of that group, yes. So, after tobacco, what happens? You go to opioids. Did you ever watch Billions?


The Paul Giamatti character? I forget his name in the show. He was terrific. Chuck something. He’s a U.S. attorney driven to be attorney general and governor. It didn’t used to be that way. I tell people all the time, if the attorney general’s office were not term limited, I’d still be attorney general.

You seemed to really love that job, as opposed to being governor, which was more politics.

Right, much more politics. It [Attorney general] was great.

 If you talk to anybody who has done the job, they’ll tell you. It’s a great job.

So what are the skills that you need in order to be a successful attorney general for the commonwealth? Not politically, but for the commonwealth?

I would say experience in management, because you’re a manager of over 1,000 people. You manage, I forget what the budget is, take a look. [Editor’s note: $139 million] You need to have good communication skills, because you’re communicating in so many different areas. Three, I think you need some criminal law background. Now, Shapiro is the exception to that rule. He had none. But he’s been an exception in a lot of different ways.

And I think you have to have vision. When I was assistant DA, I did a lot of child sexual assault cases. This is when the internet was just really starting to get going with predators. We established the child predator unit. We recognized phones and laptops could be used for good but also could be used for bad. So when I became AG, we focused on it. We were one of the first ones that did it. In fact, the new attorney general of Delaware visited us to see what we were doing. That was Beau Biden, and he and I became friends. We sent our people down to help him; he set up a very good unit. So you have to have some vision of what you want to do.

How important is it to have real prosecutorial experience?

It’s not mandatory, but it is desirable. Look at what Shapiro did when he went into office. He brought [current AG] Michelle Henry from Bucks County to be his First Assistant. Basically, for criminal law, she was the attorney general, right? And I’ll bet you he always deferred to her. Because he had no experience in it. When it came to antitrust, I looked at my antitrust people. That’s managing — looking at the information and making the decisions.

By the way, when you’re talking about qualifications, there’s only one qualification that you have to have to be attorney general in Pennsylvania. In fact, it’s the only statewide position that has a qualification other than age. Do you know what it is?

Um … a law degree?

A license to practice law.

Interesting. If you had one question to ask of the current candidates, what would it be in order to suss out who is most qualified?

I can’t limit that to one. But here’s one for fun: Do you plan on running for governor after you’re attorney general?

Yeah, that’s a good one, or even before your term ends, right?

Yeah. Once you become attorney general, are you planning to become governor? When I was appointed, I never had any idea. Even when I became attorney general by election I wasn’t planning on running for governor. It was after my reelection in 2008, when I got over 3 million votes that party leaders came to me and said, “You gotta run for governor.” I don’t regret running. I had a great time as governor and I would have liked to have gotten reelected. I think we missed out on getting a lot of things done. My successor didn’t do a whole lot.

I believe that life has a balance and politics should have a balance. And I look at some of the positions of the progressive prosecutors and they lack balance.

Getting back to the AG position, why was it such a great job, in your estimation?

You had the ability to have a positive impact in so many different areas. In the drug cases, we weren’t going out to the street and we weren’t there to compile stats; we were going after those who were impacting whole communities. We’d use the wiretap law judiciously. We’d use asset forfeiture and seizure. We had an impact with the child predator unit. We went after organized crime. That’s my background. I did a lot of narcotics organization cases, both as an assistant U.S. attorney and as U.S. attorney. If you talk to anybody who has done the job, they’ll tell you. It’s a great job.

What do you make of the whole progressive prosecutor movement?

I believe that life has a balance and politics should have a balance. And I look at some of the positions of the progressive prosecutors and they lack balance. You look at these situations where prosecutors are letting people out or not charging people. What’s the number one role of government? Number one for all governments?

Provide for the general welfare?

Public safety. I teach it to my students. It’s public safety. We had a case here in Pittsburgh, where a guy from New York was arrested with enough fentanyl to kill half the people of Pittsburgh. They didn’t hold him. He’s gone, okay? You’ll never see him again. Please use some common sense. Do you have kids?

No, my wife is a second grade school teacher. So she’s had enough of kids by the end of every day.

Well, ask her. If there are no consequences, children will continue to try and see where the line is. If it’s not there, they’ll continue to do the same thing. The same with criminals. They’re not children, but how do you expect them to change their behavior? We’re talking about a philosophy of, “Oh, we have to be kinder, gentler.” I think we have to be fair. I’m actually hopeful about your new mayor, Cherelle Parker, whom I get along with very well. We worked together. And I’m hearing that we’re starting to see a little bit of change, at least from the police side.

Governor, I know I called you about the AG race. But I also want to correct one record from your term as governor and I have written this in the past but I wanted you to hear it from me. From everything I can tell, you did not cut education spending — to the degree you cut anything, that was a reference to Great Recession stimulus money, which was sunsetting.

Thank you. What happened is, when I took office, I inherited a $4.2 billion deficit. The vast majority of that was in education. And [former Governor] Ed Rendell, when that stimulus money came in, he made the mistake of taking it and putting it into the General Fund budget, instead of keeping it over to the side and using it for other projects.

Which means it might not have been really stimulating anything.

He balanced his budget on it. But it’s one time money; you can’t balance a budget on one time money. So what he did is, when they sent the money to the school districts, he did warn them: Don’t put this into your general budget. This is one time money.

Well, what did 75 percent of them do? They put it into their operating budgets. Remember, the complicating factor is that all schools are unionized. Their contracts call for increasing revenue each year, which wasn’t there. So it was easier for the press to say, “He cut the budget,” than to explain it.

Governor, thank you so much. This has been very educational.

You and your readers should go take a detailed look at the AG website. It’s very detailed — they break it down by sections. There’s a criminal division, civil division, public protection division. And you can look and see what each one does.

That’s great. Will do.



Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett. Photo by Ted Nichols (U.S. Airforce), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Philadelphia Citizen will only publish thoughtful, civil comments. If your post is offensive, not only will we not publish it, we'll laugh at you while hitting delete.

Be a Citizen Editor

Suggest a Story

Advertising Terms

We do not accept political ads, issue advocacy ads, ads containing expletives, ads featuring photos of children without documented right of use, ads paid for by PACs, and other content deemed to be partisan or misaligned with our mission. The Philadelphia Citizen is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and all affiliate content will be nonpartisan in nature. Advertisements are approved fully at The Citizen's discretion. Advertisements and sponsorships have different tax-deductible eligibility. For questions or clarification on these conditions, please contact Director of Sales & Philanthropy Kristin Long at [email protected] or call (609)-602-0145.