| July 15
July 15 Visitors to the portrait gallery at the
Pennsylvania state Capitol in Harrisburg will see more than
simple images of the state's past lawmakers - new plaques
unveiled on Tuesday include a listing of any well-known criminal
history as well.
The new bronze plaques beneath the portraits of four former
House speakers were added as a compromise with lawmakers who
wanted the portraits removed altogether after the politicians
went to prison, said Stephen Miskin, a spokesman for
Pennsylvania House Speaker Sam Smith.
"We didn't paint bars across the portraits," quipped Miskin,
but the new tags do "give a fuller depiction of these
Labels were changed for former House speaker Bill DeWeese, a
Democrat from Greene County, who was released from prison in
2014 after serving time for using public resources for political
The placard was also updated for Herbert Fineman, a Democrat
from Philadelphia convicted of obstructing justice in 1977, as
was the description of John Perzel, a Republican from
Philadelphia, released in 2014 after serving time for
The plaque identifying former Senate president pro tempore
Robert Mellow, a Democrat from Lackawanna County was also
adjusted, to reflect his 2012 guilty plea to conspiracy to
commit mail fraud and filing a false tax return.
"Hopefully it sets an example for others, and hopefully it
sets precedent that won't be needed again," Miskin said of the
changes decided by Smith and Pennsylvania Senate pro tempore Joe
Scarnati after debate amongst lawmakers.
Some lawmakers wanted the portraits removed entirely, but it
was Smith's thought that the past couldn't be erased, so instead
the plaques were altered to reflect history accurately, Miskin
said of the compromise.
The portrait gallery was created in 1988 and features
paintings of Pennsylvania House speakers, as well as notable
representatives, including Benjamin Franklin.
(Editing by Sharon Bernstein)