HARRISBURG, Pa. — A former federal prosecutor who led sweeping corruption investigations in Allentown and Reading said Wednesday that he is running for Pennsylvania attorney general, becoming the second Democrat to seek the office that will become vacant after next year's election.
Joe Khan, 47, recently left his job as the solicitor for Bucks County before announcing that he is seeking the state's top law enforcement office.
During his time as solicitor, he defended the county's election administration against Republican attempts to overturn President Joe Biden’s win over Donald Trump in the 2020 election in the presidential battleground state.
He also sued social media companies, accusing them of fueling a youth mental health crisis, and helped consolidate support among the county's municipalities for a plan to distribute money from the state's settlement with opioid makers and distributors.
"The defense of the right to vote against Donald Trump and his goons is absolutely the one I’m most proud of,” Khan said.
Before that, Khan was prosecutor for the federal government for a decade and the city of Philadelphia for six years.
As an assistant U.S. attorney, Khan led a pay-to-play corruption investigation into city halls in Allentown and Reading that netted more than a half-dozen guilty pleas and, after Khan left, convictions of the cities’ mayors.
He ran for city district attorney in 2017, losing in the Democratic primary.
Another Democrat, former state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, announced his candidacy last week.
Khan, of Doylestown, got his law degree from the University of Chicago. The Philadelphia native has a brother serving in the state House of Representatives and started a political action committee dedicated to helping candidates who — like him — are the children of immigrants. Khan's father, an engineer, immigrated from Pakistan.
The attorney general’s office has a budget of about $120 million annually and plays a critical role in arresting drug traffickers, fighting gun trafficking, defending state laws in court and protecting consumers from predatory practices.
The office helped lead state attorneys general in settlement talks with pharmaceutical distributors and manufacturers over the opioid crisis and played a central role in defending the integrity of Pennsylvania’s 2020 presidential election against repeated attempts to overturn it in state and federal courts by Trump’s campaign and Republican allies.
Gov. Josh Shapiro stepped down as attorney general in January when he was sworn in as governor. He appointed his top deputy, Michelle Henry, to finish the last two years of his term as attorney general.
Henry, a former Bucks County prosecutor, has said she does not plan to run for the office in 2024.