Since 2014, plaques that noted the criminal convictions of former Speakers of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives hung under their official portraits in the state Capitol. The plaques were removed earlier this year, and state Rep. Aaron Bernstine (R-Beaver/Butler/Lawrence) today sent a letter to current House Speaker Bryan Cutler requesting they be rehung.
The plaques had been hung under the portraits of John Perzel, Herbert Fineman, and Bill DeWeese.
“Criminal convictions that occurred while these politicians served the taxpayers should not be hidden from the public,” Bernstine said. “Good or bad, visitors to the Capitol should have the opportunity to be educated on the full history of their government.”
Full text of the letter sent to Cutler is below:
Dear Speaker Cutler,
In June 2020, the former Speaker of the House removed plaques from three Speakers' portraits without comment. These plaques were installed to note criminal conduct and convictions. All three elected officials were convicted of crimes related to abuses of public office.
Sadly, Pennsylvania has a deep history of bipartisan corruption, and the plaques are an appropriate way to inform visitors to the Capitol about some of those most recent instances. I think we can both agree it is inappropriate to try to erase history.
According to media reports, the plaques are currently in storage at the Capitol. In the name of transparency, I ask that you return them to the portraits where they belong and explore what steps can be taken to ensure they are not removed again.
10th Legislative District
Lawrence, Beaver, Butler County