City

Inquirer Endorses Republican Beth Grossman for DA

Krasner supporters are outraged over the newspaper's shocking plug for the Republican candidate.

beth grossman

In a surprising move, the Inquirer has endorsed Republican District Attorney candidate Beth Grossman.

The newspaper’s plug for Grossman has drawn outrage from supporters of Larry Krasner, the progressive firebrand who beat out six other Democratic candidates for the nomination in May and a candidate who vows to turn an embattled D.A.’s office on its head. 

In its reasoning, the newspaper largely cited Grossman’s experience as a career prosecutor, claiming she’s developed a “clean vision of who the district attorney’s clients are” during her 21-and-a-half years in every unit of the Philly D.A.’s office.

But it’s precisely Grossman’s experience – or a hefty chunk of it – that Krasner’s defenders object to.

Between 2007 and 2015, Grossman ran the city’s public nuisance task force. That unit handles civil asset forfeiture, a legal process that allows the city to seize people’s cash, cars and homes without ever charging them of a crime. As the Inquirer writes, the task force “so abused the civil forfeiture law that a federal lawsuit forced change. Under that program, people not even accused of a crime lost their houses and cars because of alleged actions by family members.”

The publication excused Grossman’s tenure in the program, claiming she “says she was following the rules at the time, and that now she would not take property unless the owner was convicted of a crime. That’s the right answer.”

James Williams, Grossman’s campaign manager and the Republican 50th Ward leader, said “the job of the D.A. is to uphold the crime code, and that was the law at the time. Beth was doing her job.”

But for some, like City Councilwoman Helen Gym, it’s not enough.

Krasner has vowed to end civil asset forfeiture, a process that has garnered notable bipartisan opposition. In its endorsement, the Inquirer commended Krasner for his commitment to representing civil rights, social justice and gun control advocates. Its only critique of Krasner is his lack of prosecutorial experience, which some of his supporters tout as an advantage – and it’s important to note that in April of 2016, the newspaper backed then-Democratic Attorney General candidate Josh Shapiro, who had no prior experience as a prosecutor.

Dustin Slaughter, a spokesperson for the Krasner campaign, criticized the newspaper in a tweet on Sunday.

The Inquirer’s endorsement adds to an already-interesting D.A.’s race – and in some ways, it stokes both campaigns. The ratification serves as validation for Grossman, who faces a significant disadvantage as a Republican in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 7-1. While it’s an unexpected blow to the Krasner campaign, it’s generating a significant pushback that is, in a way, further exposing issues surrounding the civil asset forfeiture program.

Many voiced their objections to the endorsement on Twitter, including one of the Inquirer’s own reporters, Mike Newall.

https://twitter.com/gutekunstlaw/status/919620733759717376

Others weighed in in support of Grossman:

https://twitter.com/TrendingViews1/status/919595998044880896

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.