P-8: Rep., candidates on fracking, economy DOJ nomination

By Tom Waring

Wire Staff Writer

U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick last week blasted President Barack Obama for nominating an attorney to head the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division who previously chaired efforts to defend convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Debo Adegbile appeared in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 8.

Abu-Jamal was found guilty of shooting and killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981. He is serving a sentence of life in prison.

Fitzpatrick (R-8th dist.) joined the National Fraternal Order of Police in sending a letter of opposition to Obama. The congressman also sent letters to Pennsylvania Sens. Pat Toomey and Bob Casey Jr. and members of the Judiciary Committee.

“Respectfully, I could not be more incensed and confounded by the nomination of Mr. Debo Adegbile as the next Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice,” Fitzpatrick wrote. “Under Mr. Adegbile’s leadership, nonprofit attorneys were recruited to defend convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. Jamal’s cold-blooded murder of Officer Faulkner is not in doubt. The efforts of those attorneys perverted the justice system and have made a mockery of the jury’s verdict and the court’s sentence.

“A shameless ‘cottage industry’ of money and promotion has arisen from Jamal’s heinous act which continues to torture Officer Faulkner’s widow and family. This nomination is a direct affront to the thousands of law enforcement officials who serve in harm’s way to protect our families, and the communities who rely on their service and sacrifice.”

Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick addressed the House of Representatives on Jan. 8 in support of his bill that would give a government contracting preference for a veteran-owned small business whenever any other business receives a contracting preference.

“This bipartisan bill makes sure that we’re tapping into the most highly skilled workforce in history and utilizing their unique skills to get our economy moving again,” he said.

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Shaughnessy Naughton, one of two Democrats running in the May 20 primary in the 8th Congressional District, is demanding that the state Department of Environmental Protection provide more transparency on fracking-related water contamination in the Delaware River Basin and throughout Pennsylvania.

News organizations have reported that DEP has declined to provide information about drilling-related complaints.

“It is shocking to me that the one entity in the state that’s supposed to protect our environment is fighting efforts to learn about the impact of fracking,” Naughton said. “I’m calling on the DEP and the Corbett administration to improve their transparency. We do not know enough about the effects of fracking, and the new information we are getting does not look good. We need more information, not less. The residents of Pennsylvania deserve better from their state government.”

In other campaign news, Naughton was endorsed by the Progressive Kick Political Action Committee.

“I am proud to have the endorsement of a PAC dedicated to standing up for those who need it most,” she said. “That’s why I got into this race to begin with. I am increasingly frustrated with the growing inequality in our country, with our lack of sound environmental policy, and with the number of people still out of work. I know that we can do better, and I am glad to have a team of national progressive supporters behind me in my fight to bring true progressive change to Washington.”

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Kevin Strouse, the other Democratic candidate in the race, is calling on Fitzpatrick to vote to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which ran out on Dec. 28 for 1.3 million Americans.

“Congressman Fitzpatrick should take action to pass an extension of jobless benefits as soon as possible,” he said.

Some Republicans have been hesitant to extend benefits because Democrats have not offered a way to pay for them.

Strouse also reiterated his support for an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.

“This is about ensuring our friends and neighbors can earn an honest living and provide for their families,” he said.