Former Pennsylvania House Speaker Bill DeWeese says he will not resign following his conviction Monday on five counts of corruption in the scandal known as “bonusgate.”
The longtime House Democrat is the first sitting legislator to be convicted since 2004, and the second House Speaker to plead or be found guilty of a crime within six months.
DeWeese was convicted on five of six corruption charges relating to allegations he used taxpayer-paid resources for political purposes. DeWeese, who intends to appeal the jury’s verdict, said he will continue his campaign for re-election.
“My petitions are out in my precincts, and I believe that in the court of public opinion, I shall be favorably received to some substantial degree. That’s up to the voters,” he said. “But I will certainly continue to run for re-nomination and reelection.”
Convicted felons are barred from serving in the General Assembly, but DeWeese’s conviction will not become official until he’s sentenced in April. Until then, he’s free to continue voting.
“He’s a convicted felon and convicted felons, once they’re sentenced, can’t sit in the General Assembly,” said Ken Brown, a prosecutor in the state attorney general’s office. “If he wants to spit in the face of the jury’s verdict, I guess that’s his prerogative.
The House Majority’s office has said Republican leaders won’t push to expel the lawmaker until after the sentencing date.
But, they’ll advance an expulsion resolution if he doesn’t resign after that.