Do you believe that a person convicted of 5 felonies should be allowed to hold political office?
Pennsylvania House Democratic leader Bill DeWeese was convicted by a jury on Monday of five felony charges of theft and conspiracy. DeWeese proclaims his innocence and vows to remain in his House seat and to seek re-election.
In a case that has been called Bonusgate, DeWeese was one of 25 people facing charges. Of those 25 defendants, 6 were legislators and staff. Fifteen people charged in Bonusgate have pleaded guilty.
Bonusgate became public when authorities were notified that a number of Democrats in the Pennsylvania state House of Representatives were conducting political campaigns from their offices using taxpayer dollars.
DeWeese said he was totally unaware of the campaign activity at taxpayer expense until after the investigation had begun. However, Kevin Sidella was hired by DeWeese as a legislative aide to work on the political campaign activities.
DeWeese’s conviction automatically causes him to lose his state pension and once he is sentenced on April 24, he will lose his seat in the House even though he vows to remain and seek re-election.
Holding political office is a privilege in this country. Men and women elected to represent the people should be held to higher standards and should be above any reproach or questionable character. Therefore, anyone convicted of a felony by a jury should automatically and immediately be removed from holding office. As such DeWeese should not have to step down, but should have lost his seat in the state House the moment the jury’s verdict was read and entered in the court records.