July 21, 2014

USA: Pennsylvania Will Now Shame Convicted Lawmakers With Plaques That Note Their Crimes

The Washington Post
written by Hunter Schwarz
Thursday July 17, 2014

Portraits of four Pennsylvania lawmakers that hang in the State Capitol building in Harrisburg will now indicate they were convicted of a crime.

“There was a question: ‘Do you remove the portraits or do you do something else?’” said Stephen Miskin, a spokesman for House Speaker Sam Smith, a Republican from Punxsutawney. “You can’t change history, whether you like it or not. There was a feeling you should keep the portraits out there and let people make up their own mind.”

The lawmakers’ criminal activity will now be inscribed on a plaque that identifies their portraits, and is a result of several members concern over what to do following the two most recent convictions in 2011 and 2012.

Robert Mellow (D), whose portrait is above, served in the Pennsylvania Senate from 1971 to 2010 and pleaded guilty to political corruption and tax evasion in 2012, according to his plaque. The other lawmakers who received updated plaques all served as House speakers. Bill DeWeese (D) and John Perzel (R) were jailed in connection with using state resources for campaigning, and Herbert Fineman (D) was convicted on two counts of obstruction of justice.

The gallery that houses these portraits was created in 1988 and includes current and former Senate presidents, House speakers, and other notable lawmakers like Benjamin Franklin, Miskin said.

The plaque reads: “Mr. Mellow did not seek re-election in the Senate in 2010. In 2012, Mr. Mellow pled guilty to political corruption and tax evasion, and was sentenced to prison on November 30, 2012.”

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