Pennsylvania state senator condemns portraits of felonious officials


By Andrew Staub | PA Independent

HARRISBURG, Pa. — It hasn’t taken long for new state Sen. Scott Wagner to make waves in the Pennsylvania Capitol.

WAGNER: State Sen. Scott Wagner might be new to Harrisburg, but he’s wasted no time making waves.

It hasn’t even been a month since the York County Republican took his oath of office after winning a special election in March. Wagner has pledged that he will not accept a state pension or per diem benefits.

And now, he announced his intentions to introduce a resolution condemning the practice of hanging portraits of former lawmakers who’ve been convicted of felonies.

“Act 140 of 1978 requires state lawmakers convicted of certain felonies to forfeit their pension benefit, yet we honor some of these same individuals with portraits in our state Capitol,” Wagner wrote in co-sponsorship memo. “While I recognize that many of these individuals have played critical roles in our Commonwealth’s history and it is impractical to leave them out of that history, I believe that to revere them with portraits is a line that we should not cross.”

Visitors touring the Capitol don’t have to look hard to find the portraits honoring the disgraced officials.

An image of former state Sen. Robert Mellow still graces the Capitol, even after he pleaded guilty to using public resources for campaign purposes. And on the House side, there’s former Speaker John Perzel, who also spent time in prison for similar offenses.

Wagner’s resolution would call for an end to the practice in the state Senate and encourage the House to follow suit.

Given Wagner’s campaign promises to shake up Harrisburg, his actions haven’t been surprising. That message resonated with voters, leading Wagner to beat fellow Republican and state Rep. Ron Miller and Democratic nominee Linda Small in a contentious race to fill a seat left vacant by former state Sen. Mike Waugh’s retirement.

Andrew Staub is a reporter for PA Independent and can be reached at Follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.