Framed and convicted politicians get their due at Pa. Capitol

     The plaque hanging in the Pennsylvania Capitol below the official portrait of former House Speaker John Perzel and three other former top state lawmakers in Harrisburg, Pa., now includes information about their criminal histories. (Marc Levy/AP Photo)

    The plaque hanging in the Pennsylvania Capitol below the official portrait of former House Speaker John Perzel and three other former top state lawmakers in Harrisburg, Pa., now includes information about their criminal histories. (Marc Levy/AP Photo)

    Slow progress in Harrisburg is often blamed on the deliberative, cumbersome legislative process.  But a small change happened this week without any votes in the Pennsylvania Legislature.

    Plaques disclosing criminal convictions have been chained to the prominently displayed, larger-than-life portraits of four former House and Senate leaders.

     

    For at least a year, current legislative leaders privately discussed how to acknowledge the misdeeds of former members recognized along the halls of the Capitol.

    Sen. Scott Wagner had called for the portraits to be taken down. But he says he’s moving on — he thinks his outcry turned people off.

    “You know, a lot of people sort of blew it out of proportion, like, ‘Well this guy doesn’t have anything else to do … he’s got his priorities out of whack because all he cares about is … the portraits hanging in the hallways,'” said Wagner, R-York. “But we’re talking about reform in Harrisburg, and I think it’s the first step.”

    The small, engraved plaques are dwarfed by the portraits of former House Speakers Herbert Fineman, sentenced for obstruction of justice, as well as Bill DeWeese and John Perzel, both convicted of corruption charges.

    The portrait of former Senate President Pro Tem Bob Mellow also got a plaque listing his conviction on corruption and tax evasion charges.

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