Pennsylvania House Republicans on Wednesday filed articles of impeachment against Larry Krasner, the progressive Philadelphia district attorney, saying his office failed to properly enforce state laws and that his policies contributed to an outbreak armed violence.
State Representative Martina White, a Republican who represents Northeast Philadelphia and is the main sponsor of the impeachment legislation, said Krasner had “tipped the scales of justice in favor of felons.”
She introduced two articles of impeachment. One said Krasner, a Democrat, had engaged in “misconduct in office” — which, according to the state constitution, can be grounds for impeachment — through policies that “ eviscerated the ability of the district attorney’s office to adequately enforce the laws of this Commonwealth.”
The second article accuses him of obstructing the efforts of the commission to investigate him. In September, the House scorned Krasner for failing to comply with a legislative subpoena.
Jane Roh, a spokeswoman for Krasner’s office, called the notion that Krasner obstructed the process a “lie” and referred to a petition he filed in Commonwealth Court in September saying the committee and his subpoena were illegal. This challenge is on hold.
In a written statement to the committee investigating him, Krasner last week defended his bureau’s handling of violent crimes, saying gun violence has also increased over the past two years in other jurisdictions. He also said his office was diverting some low-level offenders from the criminal justice system, unlike some of his predecessors, who he said relied “almost exclusively on the blunt instrument of jail and jail.” .
Krasner described the impeachment effort as a politically motivated attempt to subvert the will of Philadelphia voters.
“This is an effort to impeach someone for political gain who has done nothing corrupt and nothing illegal because he wants to wipe out the votes of Philadelphia,” he said during from a press conference last week. “They want to attack our ideas.”
READ MORE: Philly DA Larry Krasner has asked to address his impeachment committee in public. The sign said no.
White and several other lawmakers who spoke Wednesday morning recited Philadelphia crime statistics and read headlines about recent shootings and carjackings.
“Day after day, week after week, when I watch the news, when I read the news, the increasing violence tells me, enough is enough. We have to do something to help the people of Philadelphia,” House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R., Center) said, calling residents “prisoners of fear.”
Legislation to impeach Krasner, announced Wednesday morning in Harrisburg by a large contingent of House GOP members, represented an extraordinary move less than two weeks before the midterm elections, which Republicans across the country have tried to make against crime. and the rise of violence in cities.
Democrats across the ideological spectrum have criticized the impeachment campaign. State Rep. Jared Solomon (D., Philadelphia), who disagrees with Krasner’s approach and said the prosecutor is “let the citizens of Philadelphia down,” said he doesn’t hadn’t seen “a shred of evidence” that would rise to the level of impeachment.
He said that, assuming no further evidence is presented, voting against impeachment of Krasner would be one of the most important votes he has ever cast.
“We are constitutional agents,” he said. “You would overturn the will of the majority.”
READ MORE: Some Democrats are keeping their distance from Larry Krasner as Republicans make him their campaign boogeyman
Impeachment legislation must first be approved by the House Judiciary Committee before being voted on by the full House. That committee has yet to schedule its next meeting, but Benninghoff said the House will address the issue as soon as it is approved by the committee.
If approved by a simple majority of the House — which is controlled by Republicans — the legislation would move to the state Senate, where a trial would take place. A conviction and removal would require a two-thirds vote.
Impeachment in Pennsylvania is extremely rare. The last time the process was used to oust a state official was in 1994, when Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Rolf Larsen was removed from office for making legal rulings on the basis of conversations with a lawyer who had supported him politically and after being convicted in a drug-related case. conspiracy.
Their announcement comes two days after the committee investigating Krasner — and seeking grounds to impeach him — released a critical 63-page report that linked his office’s policies to rising rates of gun violence in the city. It highlighted issues such as a falling conviction rate, a growing number of firearms cases withdrawn or dismissed, and high staff turnover.
The report does not accuse Krasner of criminal misconduct and does not recommend impeachment.
The Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order, formed in July to investigate Krasner’s office, has yet to release its final report. The work of the committee should be completed at the end of November.
Committee member Rep. Danilo Burgos (D., Philadelphia) was stunned Wednesday morning when a reporter told him about House Republicans’ plans, saying “nothing says that [Krasner] commit a crime.”
He said House Republicans dictated what the committee investigated from the start. He called it a “gathering in the dark”.
“This is starting to look like their plan all along to undermine the electoral process for Philadelphia voters,” he said. “The Republican leadership just wants to keep creating theatrical appearances.”
The Republican-led Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order was formed over the summer to investigate what its leaders called Krasner’s “dereliction of duty.” Members pointed to the escalation of gun violence in Philadelphia, where last year there were 562 homicides, the most on record in the city’s history. Homicides continue at a similar rate this year.
Committee members said they had a responsibility to try to determine what was contributing to the spike and whether any of Krasner’s policies — or those of other city law enforcement agencies — were playing a role. .
“As chair, I do not approach this work with a predetermined outcome in mind. The committee will look at the facts and follow them wherever they lead,” the committee chair, Rep. John Lawrence (R., Chester).
Lawrence did not attend Wednesday morning’s press conference and could not be reached for comment.
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