Suppose the top prosecutor in your county, seeing criminals acquitted at trial time after time, becomes convinced that the system is rigged against prosecutors. So, he comes up with a plan: he’ll run for public defender and, once elected, have his office advise their clients to plead guilty rather than go to trial.
Now imagine that a billionaire who shares his views funnels hundreds of thousands of dollars to a state-registered political action committee, which then spends almost all it on TV advertising, research, polling, direct mail and other campaign related activities in support of the would-be defender.
The PAC money represents over 90% of the candidate’s fundraising and enables him to outspend the incumbent public defender by a margin of 3.5 to 1.
Does this scenario bother you? It should, on a number of levels.
First and foremost, prosecutors should prosecute, defense attorneys should defend, and judges should judge.
Unfortunately, the hypothetical scenario described above recently played out—in reverse—in Pittsburgh.
On May 16, Matt Dugan, the chief public defender for Allegheny County unseated the incumbent district attorney, Stephen A. Zappala, Jr., in the Democratic primary. The Pennsylvania Justice and Public Safety PAC, funded by billionaire George Soros, contributed the overwhelming sum of money to Dugan’s campaign.
Dugan promises to use his discretion on choosing which charges to file, divert "low-level, nonviolent cases out of the criminal justice system" rarely ask for bail, give lenient plea offers, and concentrate on violent crimes.
If these campaign promises sound familiar, that’s because it’s the standard boilerplate recited by Soros-financed candidates for district attorney.
But once these candidates get elected, they quickly turn their anodyne statements into something different and engage in prosecutorial nullification by refusing to prosecute entire categories of crimes, watering down felonies, refusing to ask for bail, and refusing to prosecute violent juveniles as adults. Of course, violent crime rates often explode in their cities.
George Gascon of Los Angeles, Chesa Boudin of San Francisco, Kim Foxx of Chicago, Kim Gardner of St. Louis, Rachael Rollins of Boston, and Marilyn Mosby of Baltimore all made the same or similar campaign promises, and each turned out to be a disaster once they were elected district attorney.
Boudin was recalled, Gardner and Rollins recently resigned in disgrace. Mosby lost her primary election and is being prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department. Foxx bowed out of running for re-election due to political pressure, and Gascon has barely survived two recall attempts.
With the exception of Gascon (who couldn’t because of civil service protections for his deputies), all of these DAs either fired career prosecutors once they assumed office or created such a toxic, anti-prosecutorial atmosphere in the office that law-and-order prosecutors left in droves.
Worse yet, there are eerie parallels between Dugan in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia’s Soros-funded district attorney Larry Krasner.
Before he was elected in 2017, Krasner was a career criminal defense attorney who sued the Philadelphia Police Department repeatedly. In his first run for District Attorney, Krasner received $1.7 million from Soros-funded groups—90% of his campaign cash. For his 2021 re-election campaign, Krasner received a combined $1,259,000 from Soros-funded groups.
For his part, Dugan has been a public defender his entire career and was appointed chief public defender in 2020. To date, Dugan has received $734,000 from a Soros-funded PAC, representing 90% of his fundraising.
Crime has exploded under Krasner’s pro-criminal policies. Murders are up 63%. Shootings are up 78%.
At the end of 2021, when confronted with the spike in murders and shootings (among other crimes), Krasner said, "We don’t have a crisis of lawlessness, we don’t have a crisis of crime, we don’t have a crisis of violence."
Michael Nutter, the former mayor of Philadelphia, called Krasner’s comments, "Some of the worst, most ignorant, and most insulting comments I have ever heard spoken by an elected official." Writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Nutter said that Krasner owes an apology to the 521 families of Philadelphia’s homicide victims.
Krasner fired 31 career homicide and violent crime prosecutors immediately upon taking office. He replaced them with public defenders and defense-oriented criminal attorneys and ordered them to decline to prosecute most drug cases, charge lower gradations of crimes, offer sweetheart plea deals, require shorter probation and parole periods, and more. Sound familiar?
The rogue prosecutor movement is dangerous, well-funded, and systematically destroying America’s communities. When these progressive zealots take office, everyone loses, except the criminals.
Enforcing the criminal laws of the state is a sober responsibility. A District Attorney should be devoted to upholding the rule of law. The people of Pittsburgh must now decide who they want in that position.
This piece originally appeared in Fox News