Larry Krasner, the Philadelphia district attorney, is fighting subpoenas from the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee investigating the impacts of his progressive policies on the city’s skyrocketing crime rate.
And Krasner’s lawyers also object to those subpoenas because they “don’t serve a proper legislative purpose” and “violate the separation of powers.” In a letter to the committee, the attorneys claim committee members “seek to deny the constitutional rights of Philadelphia citizens.” Krasner has twice been elected to his position.
The lawyers accuse Republicans of trying to raise their profiles with their base by pursuing Democrat Krasner and disputed that there were any grounds for impeachment, only “policy differences.”
“Indeed, no official has been impeached for policy differences like those that are the subject of the Select Committee and its Subpoena. Whether the House Republicans driving the impeachment effort like it or not, the citizens of Philadelphia have spoken at the polls; it is not up to House Republicans to try to effectively overturn that election.”
The Select Committee includes Philadelphia Democratic Reps. Amen Brown and Danilo Burgos.
In the heavily Democratic city, Krasner was easily reelected in the 2021 primary against Carlos Vega, when the off-year turnout was 20.1 percent.
As of Aug. 22, there were 350 homicides in the city, up one percent from the same time last year. In 2021 there were 562 homicides in Philadelphia. Rarely does a day pass when residents turn on the television news without hearing about a new shooting.
State Sen. Jake Corman, who first called for Krasner’s impeachment when he was running for governor in the Republican primary, the House didn’t act at that time. In June, Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) brought local crime victims for a rally at the capitol, which spurred her colleagues to begin an investigation that may lead to Krasner’s impeachment.
“He has been coddling criminals rather than holding them accountable for their actions,” White said. By not prosecuting crime, Krasner has “violated his oath of office,” she added. “The proof is overwhelming. The impact on our communities is devastating. Lives are lost and our citizens are living in fear.”
“Since the beginning of the effort to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, we have heard from countless Pennsylvanians, business owners, and families who are fed up with the absolute lawlessness in Philadelphia,” said Rep. Josh Kail (R-Beaver/Washington) when announcing the impeachment inquiry.
Krasner is not the only progressive prosecutor whose soft-on-crime policies have drawn ire. This summer San Francisco voters ousted District Attorney Chesa Boudin. However, a bid to recall Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon fell short after a committee struck signatures from petitions.
Krasner, one of numerous progressive district attorneys who were elected around the country, often with the help of deep-pocketed outside funding, was the subject of a PBS documentary “Philly D.A.”
When Krasner spoke to the Delaware Valley Journal in May 2021, he blamed increasing homicides and other violent crimes that were spiking on the COVID-19 pandemic. But others see his policies, including lax enforcement of gun laws, as the root cause of burgeoning crime in the city.
State Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford), a former assistant federal prosecutor, worked with White to write legislation to form a gun crime task force for Philadelphia and also extend a law that gives the state attorney general jurisdiction over gun crimes in the city. Attorney General Josh Shapiro allowed a previous version of that law to expire without using it. His office worked with Williams and White on the latest bill, HB 2275, which passed the House and is now pending in the Senate judiciary committee. Shapiro is now the Democratic candidate for governor.
“Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has said publically on a number of occasions that he believes a prior felon in possession of a gun is simply a possession case, which he is not inclined to prosecute,” said Williams. “You can still prosecute these cases in the United States Attorney’s Office.”
Last year’s budget included an additional $3 million to hire more gun prosecutors in the Philadelphia and Delaware County District Attorney’s offices “who will become special assistants U.S. Attorneys,” he said.