Eugene DePasquale Announces Campaign for Pennsylvania Attorney General

FILE - Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale speaks during a Pennsylvania Democratic Party fundraiser on Nov. 1, 2019, in Philadelphia. DePasquale, Pennsylvania's former two-term auditor general, said Thursday, June 1, 2023, that he will run for state attorney general in the 2024 election. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

By Sean Kitchen

June 1, 2023

Former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is running for Pennsylvania Attorney General as a Democrat. He plans to focus on combating gun violence, seeking new approaches to non-violent drug offenses and protecting reproductive freedoms.

Former Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale launched his campaign for Attorney General Thursday, making him the first candidate to announce a run for the office.

Prior to Thursday’s announcement, DePasquale spent the last six months traveling across the commonwealth meeting voters in preparation for his campaign. The election won’t be held until November 2024.  

The office was vacated by Gov. Josh Shapiro after he defeated Sen. Doug Mastriano in the 2022 gubernatorial race. Shapiro appointed Michelle Henry to finish the remainder of the term and KDKA reported that she will not run for a full term.

DePasquale, a Democrat, served eight years as Auditor General from 2012 to 2020, and fell short in his most recent campaign against Congressman Scott Perry (R-Dauphin) in 2020.   

One of DePasquale’s most notable accomplishments as Auditor General was reducing the state’s backlogged rape kits by almost 90%. The Auditor General’s office defined a backlogged kit as one awaiting testing for 12 months or longer, and they were able to reduce the amount of backlogged kits from 3,217 to 339 in three years.  

DePasquale, who, like Shapiro, has never served as a prosecutor, explained how the work that went into clearing the backlog can translate into operating the Attorney General’s office. He cited the two years it took to conduct the investigation, put together the right team and follow through with the work.  

DePasquale stated that, if elected, he would focus on violent gun crime and taking illegal guns off the streets. In 2018, the Auditor General’s office released a report on gun violence in Pennsylvania and made gun safety recommendations. According to the report, gun violence cost the commonwealth’s taxpayers $1.5 billion in 2016 because 76% of victims were uninsured or publicly insured.    

When it comes to non-violent crime and the opioid epidemic affecting Pennsylvania, the former Auditor General wants to take a different approach to the war on drugs, calling it “the most failed war in the history of the United States.” 

DePasquale explained how he’s seen both sides of the drug war after his father was wounded in Vietnam, became addicted to drugs and eventually served time in federal prison due to his addiction and how it affected his family.

“My dad was incarcerated, wounded in Vietnam, got addicted to painkillers and [that] eventually led to a ten-and-a-half-year prison sentence. I’ve seen both sides of this war on drugs,” DePasquale said.“I’ve also seen what happens when the insurance industry has their way.”  

While his father was incarcerated, DePasquale watched as insurance companies denied his brother coverage because of his muscular dystrophy. 

“We never had health insurance for him because he had a pre-existing condition with muscular dystrophy,” DePasquale said.

His brother, Anthony, ultimately died of the disease at age 20 and his father had to attend the funeral in shackles.

“I bring that part of my life story into an office like the Attorney General,” DePasquale said.

He wants to advocate for treatment and continue holding drug manufacturers and insurance companies accountable for their role in the drug epidemic.  

Lastly, DePasquale stressed the importance of keeping the Attorney General’s office in Democratic hands due to the ongoing Republican attacks on reproductive freedoms.  

“We’re in a post Dobbs world and we need an Attorney General that’s going to protect reproductive freedoms,” he said.

DePasquale also vowed to protect the rights of women traveling to Pennsylvania from other states to seek abortions.

“All of those things don’t happen if you have a Republican Attorney General, which will set the clock back to probably the Stone Ages.”

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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