Jeremy Baker: Josh Shapiro’s Wonderland
If you’ve ever been to Disney World, you know the suspension of disbelief that descends the moment you enter. Main Street, U.S.A. has not a speck of dirt, talking mice are the norm, and, as Disney’s website promises, “fantasy becomes reality.”
Well, you needn’t visit Florida for such an experience. We have our own fantasy world here in Pennsylvania in the form of Democrat Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s campaign for governor. In Josh’s Wonderland, realty bends to imagination, and Shapiro is the hero who single handedly saves the day.
But while Disney World is filled with eager visitors having a great time, Josh’s Wonderland sells a fantasy while Pennsylvanians suffer.
Take the opioid crisis for an example. Shapiro gave himself a Disney-worthy spotlight for his $1 billion settlement with three major opioid distributors and one manufacturer (part of a $26 billion nationwide settlement).
You know who didn’t applaud? District Attorneys—and fellow Democrats— Larry Krasner of Philadelphia and Stephen Zappala, Jr. of Allegheny County. Instead, these DAs sued Shapiro. They accused him of selling out Pa. residents who could get much more through separate lawsuits their offices had brought against drug companies.
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But even as members of his own party cried foul, in Josh’s Wonderland, he was the hero of the story.
Then, there’s Shapiro’s elaborately staged press conference touting his sweeping Grand Jury investigation that discovered more than 300 pedophile priests in the Catholic Church.
Yet, only two of those priests could be prosecuted under the statute of limitations. And when Shapiro had the chance to go beyond his self-congratulations to give victims recourse by letting voters approve a constitutional amendment expanding the window for victims to sue, he failed.
As the AG, he is, by law, supposed to provide a statement on the amendment that appears on the ballot. But, being too focused on grandstanding, it seems he neglected to follow through with former Sec. of State Boockvar, and the amendment never made it to the ballot.
In Josh’s Wonderland, he helps victims. In reality, he forgets them.
Then, there’s taking down drug dealers, which seems pretty appropriate for an attorney general, right?
In Josh’s Wonderland, Hero-Shapiro took more than 40 drug dealers off the street in a major drug bust. In the real world? Almost half of them—including the accused ringleader—walked free after Shapiro’s office bungled the case.
And who can forget Shapiro shining the limelight on himself over a $5.3 million settlement with Chesapeake Energy, whom he accused of cheating natural gas royalty owners out of payments.
In Josh’s Wonderland, this was a win. In the real world, it was a multi-million-dollar loss for the landowners, who had already reached a $30 million settlement of their own with Chesapeake in separate lawsuits. That settlement, however, was contingent on Shapiro settling his case.
Shapiro refused. And while he was pursuing his case, Chesapeake declared bankruptcy and the company settled with landowners for about $6.25 million. As the Oklahoman reported, “In 2018, they [Chesapeake] had agreed to settlements for far more, before those were held up by an objection filed by Shapiro.”
And we can’t ignore Shapiro’s latest game when it comes to Pennsylvania joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Trades unions oppose RGGI, so Shapiro—in pursuit of union contributions—recently told the unions he can’t support RGGI in its current form. This is after he suggested his support for RGGI to environmentalists, who back it. In Josh’s Wonderland, he can hold multiple positions at once, and Pennsylvanians will never know.
Now, in Josh’s Wonderland, Shapiro thinks he can run for governor while keeping his taxpayer-funded job as attorney general of the fifth-largest state. He recently said there’s “not a chance” he’ll resign his post to run.
In Josh’s Wonderland, Shapiro thinks he can run for governor while keeping his taxpayer-funded job as attorney general of the fifth-largest state.
Of course, he’ll readily resign if he wins. After all, he’s resigned every political office he’s held mid-term for another office.
He bolted from the state House mid-term in 2012 to become a Montgomery County commissioner. Then, he exited that role mid-term in 2017 for attorney general. If he’s elected governor in 2022, he’ll ditch his AG job. And, of course, no one questions his presidential ambitions, so he’d likely jump ship on Pennsylvania for the national stage at the first chance, too.
Visiting Disney World is fun, but ultimately, we know fantasy and reality are different. In his self-constructed wonderland, Josh Shapiro has yet to recognize this truth. Instead, he continues to lavish praise on himself and fantasize about holding higher and higher office.
That’s one fantasy we should all hope never becomes reality.
Jeremy Baker is the political director for Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs. www.thecommonwealthpartners.com