Joshua David Shapiro (born June 20, 1973) is an American politician and attorney who has served as the Pennsylvania Attorney General since 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, he is the nominee in the 2022 Pennsylvania gubernatorial election.
Raised in Montgomery County, Shapiro studied political science at the University of Rochester and earned his law degree from Georgetown University. He was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2004, defeating former Republican U. +moreS. Congressman Jon D. Fox. He represented the 153rd district from 2005 to 2012. As a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, he built a reputation as a consensus builder, who was willing to work across the aisle on a bipartisan basis.
Shapiro was elected to the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners in 2011, marking the first time Republicans lost control of Montgomery County. Serving on the board from 2011 to 2017, he held the position of chairman and in 2015 he was also appointed chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency by Governor Tom Wolf.
Shapiro ran for Pennsylvania attorney general in 2016, defeating Republican John Rafferty Jr. +more, and was re-elected in 2020. As attorney general, Shapiro released the findings of a statewide grand jury report that revealed the abuse of children by priests and cover up by church leaders. In 2019, Shapiro negotiated a settlement of a disagreement, that had dragged on for some six years, between Highmark and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The settlement allowed 1. 9 million insurance recipients to continue using their existing doctors as in-plan providers rather than being forced to either switch medical providers or insurance providers.
In 2021, he announced his candidacy for governor of Pennsylvania and ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. Shapiro will face Republican Doug Mastriano in the general election.
Early life and education
Shapiro was born on June 20, 1973, in Kansas City, Missouri, to a father serving in the Navy, and was raised in Dresher, a town in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. At a young age, Shapiro started a worldwide letter-writing program, known as Children for Avi, on behalf of Russian Jewish refuseniks. +more He attended high school at Akiba Hebrew Academy, now known as Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, and then located in Merion Station, Pennsylvania. He attended the University of Rochester, where he majored in political science and became the first freshman to win election as the student body president of the University of Rochester in 1992. He graduated magna cum laude in 1995. While working on Capitol Hill during the day, he also enrolled at the Georgetown University Law Center as an evening student and earned a Juris Doctor in 2002.
After graduating from Rochester, Shapiro moved to +more'>Washington, D. C. He started as legislative assistant to Carl Levin (U. S. Senator from Michigan), then served as a senior adviser to Congressman Peter Deutsch (Representative from the Florida 20th Congressional District), and then senior advisor to U. S. Senator Robert Torricelli from New Jersey. From 1999 to 2003, he worked as Chief of Staff to Congressman Joe Hoeffel representing parts of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
In 2004, Shapiro ran for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in the 153rd district. He won election by a margin of ten points over the Republican nominee, former Congressman +more_Fox'>Jon D. Fox. He won re-election in 2006, 2008, and 2010.
Following the 2006 elections, Democrats controlled the Pennsylvania State House with a one-seat advantage over Republicans, but the party was unable to unite behind a candidate for Speaker of the House. Shapiro helped to broker a deal that resulted in the election of moderate Republican +more_O'Brien'>Dennis O’Brien as Speaker of the House. O'Brien subsequently named Shapiro as deputy speaker of the house.
While a State Representative, Shapiro was one of the first public backers of then-Senator Barack Obama for President in 2008. This was in contrast with much of the Pennsylvania political establishment, which supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.
Montgomery County commissioner
Shapiro won election to the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners in 2011; the election marked the first time in history that the Republican Party lost control of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. Shapiro became chairman of the board of commissioners, initially serving alongside Democrat Leslie Richards and Republican Bruce Castor. +more While serving as a Commissioner, Shapiro also practiced corporate law at the firm Stradley, Ronon, Stevens, and Young in Philadelphia.
In 2016, Shapiro voted in favor of an 11% tax increase, which was an average increase of $66 in property taxes. During his tenure, the board of commissioners implemented zero-based budgeting and shifted county pension investments from hedge funds to index funds. +more Democrats retained a majority on the board of commissioners in the 2015 election, as Shapiro and his running mate, Val Arkoosh, both won election.
In April 2015, Governor Tom Wolf named Shapiro the Chair of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
Pennsylvania attorney general
Shapiro announced his intention to run for Pennsylvania attorney general in January 2016. While Shapiro had practiced with Philadelphia's Stradley Ronon firm, and had served as chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, he had never served as a prosecutor. +more Shapiro campaigned on his promise to restore the office's integrity following the resignation of Kathleen Kane and he also promised to work to combat the opioid epidemic and gun violence. His campaign was supported by President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and businessman and former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, who was among the largest donors to Shapiro's campaign. He won the Democratic primary for attorney general in April 2016, defeating Stephen Zappala and John Morganelli with 47% of the vote. In November 2016, Shapiro narrowly won election as attorney general, defeating Republican state Senator John Rafferty Jr. with 51. 3% of the vote.
He was re-elected in 2020, defeating Republican Heather Heidelbaugh.
In 2017, Shapiro announced the roundup of a "Million Dollar Heroin Ring" under "Operation Outfoxed" in Luzerne County. All of the charges in Operation Outfoxed were dismissed after allegations that Shapiro had mishandled the sealing of wiretapped recordings.
Shapiro joined with several other State Attorneys' General in opposing President Donald Trump's travel ban, and he also filed a lawsuit against then-President Donald Trump and the Roman Catholic organization Little Sisters of the Poor to block the implementation of a rule that would have made it easier for employers to deny health insurance coverage of contraceptives. He also joined a lawsuit against ITT Technical Institute, a for-profit educational institute, that resulted in a $168 million settlement (with about $5 million of that settlement going to Pennsylvania students). +more In 2018, he reached an agreement with federal officials to prevent the distribution of blueprints for 3D printed firearms. In 2019, he came out in support of the legalization of marijuana for recreational use by adults, joining Governor Tom Wolf and other leading Pennsylvania Democrats.
Before Shapiro took office in 2016, the Pennsylvania Attorney's General office launched an investigation of allegations of sexual abuse perpetrated by members of the Catholic Church. Shapiro chose to move forward with the investigation, and, in August 2018, he released the results of an extensive grand jury report. +more The report alleged the sexual abuse of more than a thousand children at the hands of over 300 priests. His report prompted similar investigations in other states into the Catholic Church, such as an inquiry launched by then-Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.
In August 2018, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner referred the case of the fatal shooting of 36-year-old Jeffrey Dennis by a Philadelphia police officer to Shapiro, due to Krasner having served as Dennis's criminal defense attorney prior. Dennis was in his car when undercover officers in unmarked vehicles "box[ed] in" Dennis, three officers were injured after Dennis tried to evade them. +more In December, Shapiro announced no charges would be filed against the officer involved, citing "violations of police procedure do not always rise to the level of criminal charges". Dennis's family subsequently filed a lawsuit against the officer and city of Philadelphia for the incident.
Shapiro was one of 20 electors selected by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party to vote in the Electoral College for Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris in 2020 United States presidential election.
Shapiro announced an opioid settlement in 2021 with Johnson & Johnson and three other U. S. +more pharmaceutical distributors that resulted in Pennsylvania receiving $1 billion. The settlement resolved thousands of lawsuits against the companies for their role in fueling the opioid epidemic.
As Attorney General, Shapiro has charged members of his own party with corruption. In December 2019, Shapiro charged State Representative Movita Johnson-Harrell with perjury and theft of funds from her supposedly nonprofit charity on such things as vacations and clothing. +more In July 2021, Shapiro charged State Representative Margo L. Davidson with theft by deception, solicitation to hinder apprehension, and Election Code violations after stealing from the Commonwealth by filing fraudulent overnight per diem requests and various other expenses through the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Comptroller's Office as well as hindering a state prosecution.
In August 2021, Shapiro settled the largest prevailing wage criminal case in US history. Under the plea, Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc., paid nearly $21 million to 1,267 Pennsylvania workers.
2022 gubernatorial campaign
Shapiro had long been expected to run for governor of Pennsylvania and on October 13, 2021, Shapiro announced his candidacy for governor in the 2022 election. In January 2022, Shapiro's campaign reported it had $13. +more4 million in campaign funds, which was described as a record amount for a candidate in an election year. Shapiro faced no opponents in the Democratic primary for Governor and on May 17, 2022, Shapiro secured the Democratic nomination. He will face Republican Doug Mastriano in the general election.
Shapiro is a self-described progressive Democrat and is running on a platform of protecting voting rights, abortion rights, and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Shapiro's campaign faced criticism from some progressives because of his support for capital punishment for "heinous crimes", his public feuds with Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, and his compromising with police unions to pass police reform bills. +more However, efforts to enlist a progressive primary challenge to Shapiro were unsuccessful. Shapiro later changed his position, now saying he is an opponent of capital punishment and would sign a bill to abolish it.
During the lead up to the primary election, Shapiro's campaign released a statewide televised advertisement referring to a Mastriano win as "a win for what Donald Trump stands for”, referencing Mastriano's stance on outlawing abortion and his efforts to audit the 2020 presidential election. The ad was seen as an "endorsement" for which Republican primary contender Shapiro would want to face in the general election, with Mastriano being seen as too "extreme" for swing voters to elect. +more Mastriano won the Republican primary and his closest opponent, former Congressman Lou Barletta, later said that Shapiro's ads likely helped Mastriano win the primary. However, the impact Shapiro's ads had on the primary is disputed as Mastriano was already in the lead for the Republican nomination.
Shapiro has said if elected governor, he will protect abortion access in Pennsylvania and veto any bill passed by the state legislature that would outlaw abortion in the Commonwealth. In contrast, Mastriano said he would support outlawing abortion in Pennsylvania without any exceptions, including in cases of rape or the mother's life being at risk. +more Shapiro supports abolishing the death penalty in Pennsylvania.
He supports cutting the commonwealth's nearly 10% corporate tax rate to 4% by 2025. Shapiro has proposed hiring 2,000 additional police officers across Pennsylvania and stated the "more police officers we hire, the more opportunities we have for them to get out of their patrol cars, walk the beat, learn the names of the kids in the communities. +more" Shapiro favors pardoning those convicted for possession of small amount of marijuana.
On efforts to mitigate COVID-19, Shapiro has broken with some in the Democratic Party and opposes mask and vaccine mandates. He instead prefers educating the public about the efficacy of vaccines. +more Shapiro is also skeptical about Pennsylvania joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a market-based program to reduce some greenhouse gas emissions. He has proposed expanding Pennsylvania's clean energy portfolio for utility companies, greater electric car infrastructure and investing in clean energy research and development. Shapiro supports a Lifeline Scholarship bill in Pennsylvania, which creates education savings accounts, for children in failing public schools, that can be spent on approved expenses including tutoring, instructional materials and private school tuition.
Shapiro has proposed a plan that will allow for a $250 gas tax refund per personal passenger vehicle up to four vehicles per household. He proposed funding the proposal through federal funds from the American Rescue Plan. +more On the issue of vocational training, Shapiro has proposed increasing career and technical training in high schools, tripling state funding for apprenticeships and union skills programs and creating a Pennsylvania office of workforce development. He also supports eliminating four-year degree requirements for state government jobs. Shapiro is a supporter of unions and has vowed to veto any "right to work" legislation.
Endorsements and support
Before his announcement, term-limited Governor Tom Wolf endorsed Shapiro's bid. He has also received endorsements from former Governor Ed Rendell, State Senator +more_Williams'>Anthony H. Williams, former Chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party Marcel Groen and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Additionally, he was endorsed by the SEIU Pennsylvania State Council, four SEIU local unions consisting of over 80,000 SEIU members in the state. In January 2022 the Pennsylvania Democratic Committee unanimously endorsed him. The committee also endorsed his preferred running mate, State Rep. Austin Davis of McKeesport. Other union support included the Philadelphia Carpenters Union and Sheet Metal workers, the Western Pennsylvania Laborers' PAC, and the Electricians Union Local No. 5 in Pittsburgh.
Eight Republican former officials including former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Sandra Schultz Newman and former Congressman Charlie Dent, as well as the sitting Republican chairman of the Lawrence County Board of Commissioners, Morgan Boyd, endorsed Shapiro with several describing Republican candidate Doug Mastriano as "extreme" and "divisive". Seven more former Republican officials including former U. +moreS. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff endorsed Shapiro in August 2022 for the same reason.