Reformers Wary of Attorney General Candidate

Jan 13, 2012

Government reform activists warn that the lone Republican candidate for Pennsylvania Attorney General could hamper the ongoing probe into the Milton Hershey School.

Cumberland County District Attorney Dave Freed has Governor Corbett's backing to become the commonwealth's top prosecutor. Freed is the son-in-law of Roy Zimmerman, who recently stepped down as chairman of the board that oversees the Milton Hershey School. The school has been under investigation by the state Attorney General for the past year.

Tim Potts, co-founder of Democracy Rising Pennsylvania, said the school is being investigated for several problems: "Sexual predators at the school, the unusual and lavish compensation provided to board members, the use of millions of dollars for purposes unrelated to the mission of the school, practices of overcrowding that Milton Hershey specifically prohibited when he established the school, and a pattern of packing the board with cronies instead of childcare professionals."

Potts said he is worried about Freed for two reasons. One is that Freed will be responsible for investigating Milton Hershey for the period of time when his father-in-law was chairman of the board, and the other is his ties to Governor Corbett.

"As Attorney General, Mr. Freed would be in the position to hide critical information about what many at the school see as the failure of Tom Corbett, when he was Attorney General, to investigate problems at the school," Potts said.

Republicans have held the Attorney General position since it became an elected office in 1980. Potts said the problem is not the party, but cronyism he sees in the office.

Freed is the only Republican in the race after state Senator John Rafferty (Montgomery County) dropped out this week upon learning the governor would support Freed. The state GOP makes its endorsements later this month.