The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has upheld two lower court rulings that struck down an ethics code the Montgomery County Commissioners approved about two years ago. It barred certain county employees, including assistant district attorneys, from engaging in political activity. DA Risa Ferman, who sued the commissioners, says she was concerned at first about filing a lawsuit against something called an ethics policy, but it was not about ethics.
“What I was really fighting for was the independence of the office of the district attorney, and I thought that was something worth fighting for because if the DA’s office is going to be governed from outside by other elected officials, then you’re subject to what I look at as a corruption of principle. You are subject to the political and personal agendas of people outside of the office, and that’s wrong. As an independently elected official the DA has the authority to hire, fire and supervise his or her employees, and that’s what we fought for.”
Ferman says the commissioners were not trying to improve ethics. They were trying to eliminate political competition. She appeared Wednesday on the WNPV talk program Legally Speaking.