Editorial: Ethics have to be AG priority | TribLIVE.com

Editorial: Ethics have to be AG priority

Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office sends out a lot of press releases.

They come when a drug dealer is arrested or when a lawsuit is filed against a pharmaceutical corporation. They come when he releases a grand jury report. They come when charges are filed against an elected official.

So when Shapiro sat down with the Tribune-Review editorial board Tuesday, a recap of those highlights was not surprising.

But the top item on the AG’s agenda was not the number of arrests that had been made. It was a renewed faith in the office.

“We worked really hard to rebuild the office,” he said.

Shapiro inherited an office where the last person elected didn’t finish the term. Kathleen Kane lost her law license and resigned her office following conviction on charges including perjury and obstruction of justice. He walked into a serious personnel problem and said he spent those initial months trying to restaff a department with hundreds of empty slots.

So it is understandable that Shapiro is proud to point to successes like a 39% increase in referrals to his office from counties and agencies across the commonwealth.

But it is all the more important that Shapiro has learned from previous problems in the AG’s office with the creation of the first chief integrity officer.

Eric Fillman’s role is continuing training to keep the top law enforcement agency in Pennsylvania on firm ethical ground. Given the problems in Kane’s tenure and the issues with state court officers under the “Porngate” scandal, ethics are something that can’t be assumed just because someone studies the law.

According to Shapiro’s office, Fillman has conducted 172 ethics trainings totaling 4,831 hours for OAG employees.

Given that the attorney general is responsible for holding other officeholders and public leaders to account in charges of public corruption, it is essential that the office be trustworthy. That means ethics cannot be an afterthought. They have to be the foundation that everything else is built upon.

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.