Convicted Legislative Leaders’ Portraits Now Have Plaques Explaining Their Crimes

If you're a state lawmaker with a portrait at the capitol who has also been convicted of a crime, you also have that noted under your picture.

The portraits of three former Pennsylvania legislative leaders at the state Capitol now have plaques detailing their convictions. This includes Philadelphia’s John Perzel, who was House Speaker from 2003 to 2006, pleaded guilty to corruption charges, served time in prison, and was paroled earlier this year.

Three former House speakers and one former Senate president pro tempore now have plaques noting their corruption below their official Harrisburg portraits. The whole thing started with GOP Sen. Scott Wagner, who won a special election as a write-in in May. He quickly introduced a bill that would remove the portraits of convicted lawmakers from the Capitol.

Eric Epstein of Rock the Capital, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, said the portraits should instead be replaced with mug shots. Other lawmakers didn’t want the portraits taken down. Now we have this compromise, with $75 plaques noting which lawmakers have been convicted of crimes.

Perzel’s plaque reads: “Mr. Perzel was defeated for re-election in the House in November 2010, prior to pleading guilty to a variety of corruption-related charges, and was sentenced to prison on March 30, 2012.”

The state has made it clear to lawmakers here: If you are convicted of a crime and you have a portrait at the Capitol building, a small plaque will be attached to the bottom of it. That ought to act as a deterrent.