Scott Wagner
Scott Wagner

Some artwork hanging in the state Capitol's marble corridors just got new, informative hardware.

Portraits of four elected officials - three former House speakers and a former top state senator - now include plaques detailing their respective criminal histories.

Plaques that add those details were hung Tuesday.

State Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York County, previously voiced his concern over the portraits and went so far as to author a memo for a resolution that would have called for the portraits to be removed.

The resolution was to call for an end to the hanging of portraits in the Capitol building that honor former legislative leaders who have been convicted of felonies related to abuse of their public offices.

"While these plaques do not achieve the ultimate goal of my proposed legislation, at least something is being done to acknowledge the wrongdoing of these individuals who continue to be hung in high regard," Wagner said Wednesday.

Plaques: Aides to the current House speaker and presiding senator say the new plaques are intended to keep the portrait tradition intact while addressing criticism that the portraits of convicted former lawmakers shouldn't be displayed near the likes of Ben Franklin.

For instance, ex-House Speaker John Perzel's plaque now reads, "Mr. Perzel was defeated for re-election to 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.


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Calling the plaques a step in the right direction, Wagner said state officials should take it a few steps further.

"I would still like to see the portraits removed, but I recognize that some believe they should remain as a part of history," he said.

The officials: The plaques were added to the portraits of the following former representatives:

* Former House Speaker Herbert Fineman, a Democrat from Philadelphia, was convicted of two felony counts of obstructing justice in 1977.

* Robert Mellow, a Democrat from Lackawanna County who was President Pro Tempore of the Senate. In 2012, he pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge stemming from the use of Senate staff members for campaign-related work and filing a false tax return and was sentenced to 16 months in a federal prison.

* Perzel, a Republican from northeast Philadelphia, who was convicted of corruption-related charges in 2011 and sentenced to 30 months in prison.

* Former Speaker of the House Bill DeWeese, a Greene County Democrat, in 2012 was convicted of five felony charges related to using state resources for campaigning. He was sentenced to 30 to 60 months in state prison.

- Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.