Josh Shapiro

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Josh Shapiro
Josh Shapiro (cropped) (cropped).jpg
50th Attorney General of Pennsylvania
Assumed office
January 17, 2017
GovernorTom Wolf
Preceded byBruce Beemer
Member of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners
In office
January 3, 2012 – January 17, 2017
Served with Bruce Castor, Leslie Richards, Val Arkoosh, Joe Gale
Preceded byJoe Hoeffel
Succeeded byKenneth E. Lawrence Jr.
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
from the 153rd district
In office
January 4, 2005[1] – January 3, 2012
Preceded byEllen Bard
Succeeded byMadeleine Dean
Personal details
Joshua David Shapiro

(1973-06-20) June 20, 1973 (age 45)
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Lori Shapiro
EducationUniversity of Rochester (BA)
Georgetown University (JD)

Joshua David Shapiro (born June 20, 1973) is an American politician and lawyer currently serving as the 50th Attorney General of Pennsylvania. Shapiro has emerged as a rising progressive star, garnering national attention for various actions taken as Pennsylvania's lead law enforcement officer. Through his more than 20 years in public service, Shapiro has earned a reputation as a consensus builder eager to take on the status quo and challenge powerful institutions to protect the people of Pennsylvania.

From early on, Shapiro has been a reformer—he was the first freshman elected student body president[2] in the University of Rochester history, the youngest Chief of Staff[3] on Capitol Hill, the architect of the first bipartisan House Speakership[4] in Pennsylvania history, the First Deputy Speaker of the House in Pennsylvania history, the largest vote-getter[5] in Montgomery County Board of Commissioners history, and  the leader of the first Democratically-held[6] Montgomery County Board of Commissioners in 150 years.

Shapiro has similarly transformed the Office of Attorney General since his election in 2016. He has built up the Office's civil law division[7], hired the Office's first Diversity and Inclusion Officer, taken on major corporations such as Equifax, Uber, Facebook, and Wells Fargo and emerged as a leading figure against the Trump administration's revival of the so-called "Gag Rule"[8] an administrative rule that requires recipients of Title X family planning funds to separate federally funded family planning programs from abortion and abortion referral services. The Supreme Court, in Rust v. Sullivan[9], held that a like rule did not violate the constitutional right to freedom of speech or the right of women to choose. He has been on the forefront of combating the heroin and opioid epidemic[10] and a major advocate for criminal justice reform[11].

Most notably, in August 2018, Shapiro released the results of an extensive grand jury report, alleging the sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children at the hands of 300 predator priests across 54 counties throughout Pennsylvania. Since the release, he has been an outspoken critic of the systematic cover-up orchestrated by church leadership. The report sent shockwaves across the world—from Pennsylvania to the Vatican—resulting in 15 state attorneys general opening up similar investigations, an inquiry by the federal government, and proposed legislation to change the statute of limitations.

Early life and education[edit]

Shapiro's ancestors fled persecution[4] from the town of communist Podolsk, Georgia in the former Soviet Union in the late 1800s. The family settled in Philadelphia. Shapiro's parents grew up in Philadelphia—his mother attended Girls’ High School and his father, Steven Shapiro, attended Central High School. The two met after college, married, and had three children, all of whom still live in the greater Philadelphia area. Shapiro's mother was a Philadelphia public school teacher and his father a prolific pediatrician[12] who still serves the community of Abington, PA. Steven often volunteered at a clinic[4] for poor, underserved children in the Philadelphia area. He also often testified[4] for the prosecution in cases of child abuse.

Josh Shapiro was born on June 20, 1973, in Kansas City, Missouri and was raised in Montgomery County[13], Pennsylvania. He attended Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Shapiro's life has been guided by his faith. His pursuit of public service is driven by the teachings of Scripture[4], most notably how no one is required to complete the task, but neither are we free to refrain from it. Shapiro's political philosophy is driven by a feeling of obligation to serve others and move towards progress. This was evident when, as a child, he created a pen pal program[4] with young people in the Soviet Union. Shapiro organized an initiative to write letters to members of Congress, met with Senators including Joe Biden, Arlen Specter, George Mitchell and Bob Dole, and launched a media blitz. He eventually succeeded in freeing 12-year-old Avi Goldstein[14] and his family. Goldstein was even able to attend Shapiro's bar mitzvah. This was Shapiro's first taste of activism and the power of community engagement.

Shapiro attended the University of Rochester for his undergraduate studies, initially intending to be pre-med. However, after flunking one of his pre-med classes[4] and getting cut from the basketball team in the same day, a peer knocked on his door and encouraged him to run for student government. Shapiro ran for senator-at-large and won. One of his first acts in student government was to establish a new council to govern and fund club sports, rather than leave control in the hands of the Senate. At the end of his freshman year, he ran for student body president and won—becoming the first freshman elected president in campus history. He changed his major to political science and graduated magna cum laude in 1995.[15]

Today, Shapiro lives with his wife and high-school sweetheart, Lori, and their four children in Abington, Pennsylvania.[16]

Early career[edit]

Capitol Hill[edit]

After graduating college, Shapiro moved to Washington D.C. to work on Capitol Hill. He initially intended to stay for  a brief period prior to attending to law school, but ended up residing for nine years. He began his D.C. tenure as a legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Carl Levin, then served as a senior advisor to U.S. Representative Peter Deutsch (1996-1998) and then to U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli (1998-99). From 1999-2003, at age 25, he worked as Chief of Staff to U.S. Representative Joe Hoeffel, serving as the youngest Chief of Staff on Capitol Hill[17]. During this time, Shapiro attended Georgetown Law School at night.

State house[edit]

After nine years on the Hill, and having earned a Juris Doctor degree, Shapiro decided to move back to his hometown community. He, his wife Lori, and their young daughter returned to Abington, where Shapiro began working for the law firm of Stradley Ronon Steven, and Young. Shortly thereafter, in 2004, he announced his candidacy for State Representative in Pennsylvania's 153rd District—launching a campaign founded upon making a difference in people's lives.

The seat had previously been held by Ellen Bard, who had run unsuccessfully for Congress. His Republican opponent, Jon Fox, represented Montgomery County in Congress from 1995-1999. Shapiro overcame many challenges to win the election. At a community event early on in the election, he wasn't allowed to speak with the voters. Determined to reach constituents in any way possible, Shapiro proceeded to personally knock on 18,000 doors within his district.[4]

Despite being considered a long shot—polls had Shapiro down 65% - 21% on Labor Day[4]—Shapiro and his team preserved.  By listening to people in the community, and championing their priorities, Shapiro won with 54% of the vote.

Shapiro won re-election in 2006 against Lou Guerra with 76% of the vote. Democrats in the Pennsylvania State House had a one-seat advantage, but couldn't garner enough votes for the Democratic nominee for Speaker of the House. Recognizing an opportunity for bipartisan collaboration, Shapiro spearheaded a plan[18] to nominate a moderate Republican, Dennis O’Brien, who could win the support of both parties. His plan was successful, and for the first time in Pennsylvania history, the majority party voted for a minority member to be Speaker of the House. It was the first bipartisan speakership[4] in history and resulted in a highly productive session of new reforms and policies. This is one of many examples of Shapiro reaching across the aisle in the spirit of bipartisanship without sacrificing his values. Shortly thereafter, Speaker O’Brien named Shapiro Deputy Speaker of the House—the first in Pennsylvania history. With both political parties working with Democratic Governor Ed Rendell, this legislative class passed various laws on ethics, transportation, and education funding.

Shapiro ran uncontested in the 2008 Democratic primary and won a write-in campaign in the Republican primary to ensure that he would not face major opposition in November.

During his time in the State House, as a leader on the Judiciary Committee, Shapiro wrote and passed some of the toughest ethics laws in state history. In August 2008, amidst the “Bonusgate” controversy in which House Democratic staffers received $3.8 million in public bonuses for work on party politics and campaigns, Shapiro publicly called on House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese to resign. At the time, DeWeese claimed to have no knowledge of the scheme, but years later was convicted on charges of theft, conspiracy and conflict of interest for the scandal.

County commissioner[edit]

After three terms in the State House, Shapiro ran for Montgomery County Commissioner in 2011 along with fellow Democrat Leslie Richards. Montgomery County is the third largest county in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with a population of 800,000 residents. Shapiro won, receiving the highest number of votes for the office in the history of Montgomery County. For the first time in 140 years, Democrats assumed control of Montgomery County. Shapiro and Richards served with Republican Bruce Castor. In January 2012, Shapiro was unanimously elected Chair of the three-member board.

During his tenure as Chairman of the Montgomery County Commissioners, Shapiro led a fiscal and ethical turnaround. He eliminated a large budget deficit, reduced overall debt, and replenished the County reserve fund. Through his role in directing the county Public Safety Department, he took early steps to combat the heroin epidemic by collaborating with local law enforcement and forming a multidisciplinary task force. Shapiro also helped the first LGBT couples in Pennsylvania marry and fired Wall Street money managers to protect pensions and save retirees millions.

Chair of Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency[edit]

In April 2015, Governor Tom Wolf named Shapiro Chair of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. The Commission's mission is to enhance the quality and coordination of criminal and juvenile justice systems, to facilitate the delivery of services to victims of crime, and to increase the safety of communities. While in this role, Shapiro's work on behalf of victims and for criminal justice reform earned him the trust of law enforcement leaders from both parties.

Pennsylvania Attorney General[edit]

Shapiro announced his intention to run for Pennsylvania Attorney General in January 2016.[19] He became the Democratic nominee for Attorney General following the primary on April 26, 2016.[20] He never held a position as a prosecutor prior to being elected attorney general.[21]

Agreeing with Shapiro's stance on guns, Michael Bloomberg donated to Shapiro's campaign.[21] Providing assistance for victims of addiction and imposing penalties for pollution caused by gas drilling, were among the biggest issues in Shapiro's campaign.[22]

On November 8, 2016, Shapiro won the PA Attorney General race by defeating Republican nominee and State Senator John Rafferty with 51.3% of the vote. Shapiro won the major counties of Philadelphia, Allegheny, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, and Chester, while Rafferty won the major counties of Lancaster, Berks, Westmoreland and York.[23]


  1. ^ "SESSION OF 2005 - 189TH OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY - No. 1" (PDF). Legislative Journal. Pennsylvania House of Representatives. January 4, 2005.
  2. ^ "'He's got the courage of his convictions:' Attorney General Josh Shapiro embraces high-level battles". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  3. ^ "About Josh Shapiro | Josh Shapiro, Chairman, Board of Commissioners, Montgomery County, PA". 2012-07-22. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "The Axe Files - Josh Shapiro" (PDF).
  5. ^ "About Josh Shapiro | Josh Shapiro, Chairman, Board of Commissioners, Montgomery County, PA". 2012-07-22. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  6. ^ "About Josh Shapiro | Josh Shapiro, Chairman, Board of Commissioners, Montgomery County, PA". 2012-07-22. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  7. ^ "Civil Law Division". Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  8. ^ "Statement of Attorney General Shapiro on Federal Judge's Ruling Granting Preliminary Nationwide Injunction in Contraceptive Care Lawsuit against President Trump and the Trump Administration". Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  9. ^ v. Sullivan, May 23, 1991, retrieved 2019-03-08
  10. ^ "Attorney General Shapiro Announces Addiction Treatment Outreach Initiative in Carbon County". Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  11. ^ "Pennsylvania Reentry Council". Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  12. ^ "Steven A. Shapiro, DO". Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  13. ^ "The Office". Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  14. ^ Marks, Jon (2016-11-02). "Attorney General Candidates Shapiro, Rafferty Put Focus on People of Pennsylvania, Not Each Other". Jewish Exponent. Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  15. ^ Pennsylvania General Election Results, Pennsylvania Department of State, 11/2/04 Archived November 27, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "The Office". Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  17. ^ "About Josh Shapiro | Josh Shapiro, Chairman, Board of Commissioners, Montgomery County, PA". 2012-07-22. Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  18. ^ Hall, Peter. "Pennsylvania's new attorney general hopes to restore confidence in the office". Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  19. ^ Field, Nick (January 12, 2016). "Shapiro Officially Announces AG Campaign". PoliticsPA. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  20. ^ Addy, Jason (April 26, 2016). "Shapiro Wins Dem AG Nomination". PoliticsPA. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  21. ^ a b Orso, Anna. "Josh Shapiro wins PA Attorney General race". Billy Penn. Spirited Media. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  22. ^ Esack, Steve. "Shapiro wins AG race, leading Dems sweep of state row offices". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  23. ^ Times, New York (November 21, 2016). "Pennsylvania Attorney General Results: Josh Shapiro Wins". Retrieved November 25, 2016.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Kathleen Kane
Democratic nominee for Attorney General of Pennsylvania
Most recent
Legal offices
Preceded by
Bruce Beemer
Attorney General of Pennsylvania