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Philly DA Enjoyed European Excursion as Homicides Spiked

Dark money group spent thousands to send Larry Krasner to Germany, Portugal amid deadly year

Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner / YouTube Screenshot
• April 26, 2021 5:00 am

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As Philadelphia's top law enforcement officer spent two weeks on a jaunt through Europe financed by a liberal dark money group, the city witnessed 3 murders, 30 rapes, 63 armed robberies, and 120 assaults with a firearm.

Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner traveled to Germany and Portugal in May 2019, a year in which his city experienced a 12-year high in homicides. Liberal dark money group Fair and Just Prosecution footed the bill for Krasner and other attendees to learn from the European countries how to ease up on crime.

In Germany, the country's "open" prison system—in which inmates are allowed to come and go on a daily basis—served as an "innovative" example of a "compassionate" and "equitable" justice system for the United States to replicate. Portugal's decision to decriminalize all drugs, meanwhile, was championed by Fair and Just Prosecution as a life-saving policy American prosecutors could "bring back … to their communities" in an attempt to "reimagine" American policing.

Progressive St. Louis circuit attorney Kim Gardner also attended the trip. She later faced criticism after sources in her office said she was "unreachable" while abroad, leading to a delay in decision-making. Krasner's office did not return a request for comment on how the trip affected the attorney's day-to-day work. Gun-possession conviction rates plummeted to just 49 percent in 2019, down 14 points from 2017, the year before Krasner took office.

The European excursion appears to have influenced Krasner's approach to criminal justice. Just months after returning to the United States, his office instituted a policy to drop all drug-possession charges if the perpetrator participates in a "treatment" program. But Krasner does not require such programs to be court-monitored, and his office does not follow up to ensure that the perpetrator completes the program before dropping charges. Twenty-twenty marked Philadelphia's deadliest year for overdoses on record.

Financial disclosures show that Krasner took at least 15 trips paid for by outside entities from March 2018 to October 2019, keeping him away from his office for a total of 57 days at a cost of nearly $16,000. Hundreds of violent crimes—including three murders—occurred while Krasner traveled through Germany and Portugal from May 6 to May 19, 2019, according to data released by the Philadelphia Police Department.

Fair and Just Prosecution sponsored the travel on at least seven occasions, which saw them cover nearly $9,800 in Krasner's expenses. Prior to Krasner's arrival in Germany, the group praised the European nation for going to "great lengths to come to terms with its troubling past" in the "wake of Nazism and the Holocaust." On the other hand, Fair and Just Prosecution argued that the United States has insufficiently addressed "its own record of human rights violations," including "decades of racially-biased policing and criminal justice decision-making."

Fair and Just Prosecution also urged attendees to "transform our justice system" to better reflect Germany, where the "vast majority of sanctions imposed" are "fines" or "education or disciplinary measures." Comparing crime problems in Germany and the United States, however, is "inapt," Manhattan Institute senior fellow Rafael Mangual told the Washington Free Beacon. He noted that a small handful of neighborhoods in Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, and St. Louis combined to account for 13.6 percent of the homicides seen in all of Germany in 2018 while housing just 0.5 percent of the European nation's population.

"There's a huge difference between our two countries, specifically with respect to the rate of serious violent crime, which is the sort of crime that generally leads to long terms of imprisonment here in the United States," Mangual said. "We're talking about a very, very different type of crime problem on a very, very different scale."

According to Fair and Just Prosecution's website, the group is a "fiscally-sponsored project of The Tides Center," a liberal dark money behemoth that has funneled nearly $170 million in taxpayer funds to left-wing groups. Fair and Just Prosecution, like all of the Tides Center's fiscal entities, does not file independent tax returns or disclose donors.

The trips are not the first time Krasner has benefited from liberal outside money. Billionaire megadonor George Soros poured nearly $1.7 million into a political action committee supporting Krasner in 2017. The progressive prosecutor has also received thousands of dollars from Hollywood celebrity John Legend, who headlined a fundraiser with Krasner just hours after eight people were shot in broad daylight in Philadelphia.

Krasner is facing a contentious reelection battle as local police groups spearhead an effort to oppose his progressive reforms, which they say are driving Philadelphia's ongoing crime spike. Krasner will square off against Democratic challenger Carlos Vega—who is backed by the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police—in the city's May primary.