Benjamin Waxman, longtime communications director for Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, is set to leave the office at the end of next month.
Waxman, who has been Krasner’s communications director for more than two years, said Thursday he felt “the time was right” to leave the office and begin doing communications work through his consulting firm A. Waxman & Company. Waxman said that, although he will cease to be the office’s communications director at the end of May, he expects he will continue doing some outside consulting work for Krasner.
“It’s been an amazing experience. I’m super proud of all the work we’re doing, and I feel humbled for being able to play a small role in this,” he said. “I’m really rooting for all the continued success of the DA’s office and all the wonderful people who work there.”
Waxman was known in Democratic circles long before joining Krasner’s district attorney campaign in early 2017.
After graduating Juniata College, he worked as a reporter for the Daily News and WHYY-FM before performing communications work for various organizations in Philadelphia through his consulting firm.
In 2013, he became the director of communications for state Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, and left that position in February 2017 to join Krasner’s campaign at a time when Krasner, a criminal defense attorney who had no prosecutorial experience, was seen as a long-shot candidate. Krasner ended up handily winning the crowded 2017 primary, with 38 percent of the vote—nearly twice as many votes as the second-place candidate, Joe Khan, who ended up with 20 percent.
It has been a tumultuous time for the office in terms of press coverage since Krasner took over as the city’s top prosecutor, with intense scrutiny from the Philadelphia press and a level of coverage by national media outlets that is rarely seen by those holding local office.
On the local level, the office was almost immediately embroiled in controversy when Krasner asked more than 30 veteran prosecutors to leave the office within days of taking over. Local outlets, including The Legal Intelligencer, continued to monitor as other experienced prosecutors began to leave the office over the next few months, and office leadership sought to recruit prosecutors from law schools, firms and other prosecutors’ offices.
The office also received intense scrutiny over its handling of death penalty cases, police-involved shootings and plea deals, including a 3 1/2-to-10-year sentence for a man who critically wounded a west Philadelphia deli owner. That agreement eventually caught the attention of U.S. Attorney William McSwain of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who has since charged the shooter and also become a vocal critic of the city’s top prosecutor.
Despite the intense local press coverage, the office has also received a significant amount of national attention.
Krasner is one of a handful of reform-minded prosecutors who have recently begun to take the reins from the more traditional law-and-order candidates in cities and counties across the country, and he is regularly portrayed in the national press as a leader in this movement. One of the more stunning examples of this attention was a media blitz in October 2018 where national publications including The New York Times, The New Yorker and Newsweek each carried detailed feature articles about the Philadelphia district attorney.