Hohenstein issues statement on Phila. DA Krasner impeachment vote

HARRISBURG, Nov. 16 – State Rep. Joe Hohenstein, D-Phila., issued a statement following the unprecedented vote by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.

“This resolution, made by a single member shortly after the submission of the Second Interim Report from the Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order which made no formal recommendation and signaled its intent to continue its work, is wrong,” Hohenstein said. “I support the rule of law and I believe we all benefit when we have rules that make sense and that everyone can understand. I am concerned that this legislative body has been working without rules or guidelines. The maker of the resolution is not following any recognizable rule or process. This single member, not a member of the Judiciary Committee or of the select committee, is making a last minute, lame duck session desperation move to impeach another duly elected official over political differences. The House has rarely voted to impeach a government official. There is no reason or precedent that can justify this action. In over 300 years, the House has impeached less than 10 times total, and the Senate has only convicted three of those individuals. Other than the impeachment of Justice Rolf Larsen, who was proven of criminal conduct in 1993, the House has not had an active impeachment since 1848; 174 years. No official, other than a judge or justice, has ever been impeached.

“The maker of the resolution to impeach is acting in haste to ask this body to use extreme power. The select committee’s report is interim and not intended to support impeachment. I appreciate that the select committee is keeping us apprised of its work and progress, but I believe it is premature to take a final vote, or any other action involving this committee or the full House of Representatives.

“The final paragraph of the committee’s 2nd Interim Report states:

‘The Select Committee has no reservations in emphatically stating, even at this interim stage, that addressing the increase in crime in Philadelphia requires the cooperation and collaboration of all stakeholders who share in the responsibility of addressing public safety, including, but not limited to, joint efforts to create policies and programs that harmonize protection of the public and the avoidance of unjust results. The Select Committee is hopeful that its work has underscored this critical need and that such cross-office cooperation can and does result from its work.’

“The language of cooperation and collaboration is important. The select committee was set up to deal with a very difficult issue that affects my legislative district and the entire city of Philadelphia. It would have been better to have set it up to look at violent crime statewide, because there are counties that have the same or worse increases in violence.

“The goal of the select committee should have been to conduct a comprehensive investigation, examining any and all causes of the rise in violent crime in Philadelphia. I personally voted in favor of this investigation. I held a hope that it would be conducted in good faith with the best interest of my friends, neighbors, and constituents at the forefront. Instead, it focused its energies on one singular political lightning rod and individual instead of the complicated issues and causes of violence. As a result, this body was delivered an incomplete report without sufficient proof of wrongdoing. There is simply nothing to support impeachment, which is the most serious, extreme, and rare action we can take in retaliation. As of Wednesday, Nov. 16, an additional five articles of impeachment were added. But none of these articles or reasons rise to the level of being ‘improper and corrupt’ actions that merit impeachment. There is no evidence of wrongdoing, and the committee itself has not recommended impeachment.

“Now, I want to speak directly to my constituents and neighbors in the 177th District. I know that violent crime is one of the most dire issues facing our city. I think the select committee has identified the key characteristic of the solution – cooperation and collaboration. In my office, we do this by regularly attending Police District Advisory Council meetings and other community meetings to listen to people to find out which hotspots to hit in their neighborhoods and which issues are keeping people up at night. Then we cooperate with the police and community leaders to find solutions to make everyone safer. And by ‘everyone’ I mean everyone: our children, the elderly, law enforcement and first responders. Everyone deserves to be safe and feel safe. 

“The maker of this resolution is not following the select committee’s recommendations about cooperation and collaboration. The move to impeach one person for a statewide and even nationwide problem, does not help us to be safer, it does not give us a solution to the violence, and it is not being done for the right reasons. It is not following the rule of law. The twisted interpretation of the Larsen decision to allow non-criminal conduct to be impeached is not based in any rule of law. In over 300 years, we have never impeached a fellow elected official for anything other than proven criminal conduct and have only used this mechanism on judges. The maker of this resolution has abandoned established practice, precedent, and commonsense rule of law to go after one single individual based on an incomplete investigation without evidence. This is shameful.

“To my neighbors, I take my role as a public servant and this vote very seriously. I will personally discuss my votes and reasons with you. Please reach out to me.”

More information is available by contacting Hohenstein’s office at (215) 744-2600.