LISTEN: Five Things You Probably Don’t Know About Larry Krasner

Larry Krasner. | Photo via Krasner’s campaign

The latest episode of Pushback, the podcast co-produced by Philly Mag and WURD, is now available. Listen and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, or check it out below.

Larry Krasner, the Democratic nominee for district attorney of Philadelphia, has a higher profile today than he’s ever had. The New York Times, Atlantic, Slate, The Nation and Fusion are just a handful of the national media outlets that have profiled the criminal defense attorney who sued the city government and its police department more than 70 times. Most of the recent articles about Krasner have centered on politics and not his personhood, which, in an election cycle, kind of makes sense. But who he is and what informs his unique theories on justice — the backstory of an unlikely political heavyweight, should he prevail in the November 7th general election — has largely flown under the radar. At least until now.

In the latest episode of Pushback — a collaborative podcast (produced by WURD Radio and Philadelphia magazine and hosted by Malcolm Burnley and I that profiles those in Philadelphia and beyond who go against the grain in pursuit of fairness, equality and justice — Krasner is profiled in his most human form (he showed up wearing A Tribe Called Quest-inspired socks). Politics is certainly discussed, but the conversation is largely dominated by his personal history.To get know to Krasner better, you’ll need to listen to the entire podcast. But for a snapshot, here are five things you likely didn’t know about him: Read more »

Seth Williams Pleads Guilty, Resigns as Philly DA

Seth Williams at a February 10, 2017, press conference. Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

This is a developing story.

Nearly two weeks into his federal trial on corruption charges, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams pleaded guilty on Thursday morning and said he would resign his office effective immediately.

Williams pleaded guilty to one count related to accepting a bribe from a Bucks County businessman named Mohammed N. Ali. As part of the plea deal, 28 other counts against him have been dismissed.  Read more »

Seth Williams’s Trial Starts This Week

Seth Williams at a February 10, 2017, press conference. Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams’s trial starts today.

Williams faces 29 corruption charges, including wire fraud, extortion and bribery-related charges. Prosecutors say that, among other offenses, Williams stole from his own mother, spent campaign funds on personal expenses (like spa treatments and fancy dinners), used his political influence to collect gifts from local business owners (like a Jaguar convertible, a custom sofa, and vacation to Punta Cana), and drove government vehicles on his own time.

Williams has pleaded not guilty to the charges. In January, he agreed to pay a $62,000 fine to the City of Philadelphia Board of Ethics (the largest of its kind in city history) for failing to disclose gifts in the years prior, some of which were prohibited.

U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond is expected to select a jury today. Its 12 members (and four alternates) will come from a 140-member pool of potential jurors from nine southeastern Pennsylvania counties. Prosecutors, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Zauzmer, expect to take two to three weeks to present their case. Williams’s lawyer, Thomas Burke, said the defense would take less than a week.

Williams, a 50-year-old two-term Democrat, announced he wouldn’t run for reelection in February. Despite protests and calls to resign from dozens of officials, including Mayor Jim Kenney and Gov. Tom Wolf, Williams has remained in office since prosecutors first filed charges against him in March. He’s shifted into a $175,000-a-year administrative role and is currently working without a law license.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.

How Rebecca Rhynhart Defeated Philadelphia’s Democratic Machine

City Controller candidate Rebecca Rhynhart | Photo courtesy of Rhynhart’s campaign

In the wake of Philadelphia’s paradigm-shifting primary, the district attorney election has gotten far more attention than any other race. But the results of the city controller face-off were far more surprising — and arguably more emblematic of the weaknesses of Philly’s Democratic machine — than the DA’s election.

Rebecca Rhynhart, a top financial aide for two mayors and a former Wall Streeter, won the controller’s Democratic primary in a landslide, defeating three-term incumbent and party favorite Alan Butkovitz by 17 percentage points. Unlike the winner of the Democrats’ district attorney election, progressive Larry Krasner, Rhynhart did not have the benefit of an independent political action committee with $1.45 million in the bank. Nor did she enjoy Krasner’s diehard fans or his ability to capture the imagination of the national media. Rhynhart was also competing on the Democratic Party’s home turf: She challenged a longtime politician in an off-year election. These races are typically won by party-endorsed candidates, in part, because so few voters cast ballots in them.

So how did Rhynhart pull off her upset victory? The election was a perfect storm, say campaign staffers, party insiders and other political observers — and it holds key lessons for future outsider candidates. Read more »

The Biggest Winners and Losers in Philadelphia’s 2017 Primary Election

Clockwise: Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif, Democratic district attorney nominee Larry Krasner, Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police chief John McNesby, labor leader John Dougherty, City Controller Alan Butkovitz, ward leader Marian Tasco, and protesters at Philadelphia’s Women March.

Philadelphia’s election on Tuesday was a game-changer. The winner of the Democratic primary for district attorney is a criminal defense lawyer who has never prosecuted a case in his life and made a name for himself by suing law enforcement over alleged abuses and representing progressive activists like Black Lives Matter. A young ex-budget director crushed incumbent City Controller Alan Butkovitz, the ultimate political insider, in an upset victory.

Those two Democratic nominees, Larry Krasner and Rebecca Rhynhart, are the race’s biggest winners. But who are the other winners and losers — the issues, interest groups, and kingmakers — in the election? Here’s our list: Read more »

“Stop Lighting Money on Fire”: DA Nominee Larry Krasner on His Plans for the Office

Criminal defense attorney Larry Krasner. | Photo courtesy of Krasner’s campaign

Democratic district attorney candidate Larry Krasner, whose progressive platform inspired the highest Philadelphia voter turnout for a DA primary since 2001 and earned him a nod from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, laid out his vision for the future of the DA’s office on Wednesday. Read more »

Bernie Sanders Is Very, Very Happy About Larry Krasner’s Win

R: (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) | L: Photo courtesy of Lawrence Krasner for District Attorney

Philly progressives have been on cloud nine since the city chose civil rights lawyer Larry Krasner as its Democratic district attorney candidate.

Apparently, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has been too. Today, Sanders congratulated Krasner on his win.

“At a time when Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions is pushing the Department of Justice to restart the failed ‘War on Drugs,’ it is refreshing to see voters choose a prosecutor who wants to treat addiction as an illness, not a crime, and move to end mass incarceration,” Sanders said, according to The Huffington Post. “Krasner’s primary victory is an important step forward in the fight to reform a very broken criminal justice system.”

The congratulations shouldn’t come as a major surprise – Krasner was backed by Our Revolution, a political organization with strong ties to Sanders. The Philly DA candidate likely drew primary support from many of the same people who voted for Sanders in the presidential election.

In fact, Krasner recently said he believes that had Sanders won the Democratic nominee last year, Donald Trump would probably not be our president.

It’s interesting, considering the Trump resistance was likely one of many factors that pushed Krasner’s anti-death penalty, anti-cash bail campaign to success.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.

Progressive Firebrand Larry Krasner Wins District Attorney Primary

Larry Krasner | Photo courtesy of Krasner’s campaign

Democrat Larry Krasner, a firebrand criminal defense attorney who has never worked a day in his life as a prosecutor, won the district attorney primary Tuesday night. With 90 percent of precincts reporting, he captured 37.5 percent of the vote in a seven-candidate race. Read more »

Lemme Guess: You’re Not Voting Today. What Is Wrong With You?

Good morning, Philadelphia. It’s officially Primary Day, in case you’ve been wondering why all of your favorite TV shows have been bookended by PAC-funded political advertisements for the last few weeks. The polls opened at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m., but that probably doesn’t make the tiniest bit of difference to you. If you’re like most Philadelphians, you have absolutely no intention of showing up to vote. But I would like you to reconsider that wrong-thinking, or perhaps nonthinking, decision. Read more »

Everything You Need to Know to Vote in the 2017 Philadelphia Primary

Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Good morning and happy Election Day, Philly! Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The city will likely pick its next district attorney today. (Yes, there will be a general election this fall, but the Republican candidate will face an uphill battle because of the Democratic Party’s 7-to-1 voter registration edge.) The choice is critical: It’s the DA’s job to prosecute crimes in Philadelphia, meaning he or she plays a major role in determining whether victims get justice, how many people go to prison every year, and if citizens trust law enforcement. Currently, Philadelphians have a lot of reasons not to have faith in the DA’s office: District Attorney Seth Williams has been indicted for allegedly seeking bribes and stealing from his own mother.

There are other important races on the ballot, too, including for city controller, judges and election board worker. Plus, there are two ballot questions to answer. If you haven’t heard of any of the candidates, or don’t know where your polling place is located, don’t worry! There’s still time to learn. Here’s everything you need to know to vote today: Read more »

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