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Felonious ex-lawmakers lobbying: Time for long, hard look

| Wednesday, July 12, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Former state House Speaker John Perzel leaves the courtroom after being sentenced in Dauphin County in March 2012. (AP Photo)

Prison time for abuse of office should mean permanent disgrace, but it doesn't in the State of Corruption. Some ex-lawmakers with criminal records are lobbying in Harrisburg — a practice that deserves a long, hard look by the Legislature.

Pennsylvania law requires one year's wait before those who leave the state payroll can lobby. Interest groups, which have a right to lobby, value ex-lawmakers' knowledge. And even convicted ex-lawmakers have a right to seek employment once they've paid their debt to society.

But should those convicted of abuse-of-office felonies continue influencing, as lobbyists, the business of the public, whose trust they violated so egregiously?

Former House Speakers Bill DeWeese, D-Greene County, and John Perzel, R-Philadelphia, former House Democratic Whip Mike Veon of Beaver County and former Senate Majority Leader Joe Loeper, R-Delaware County, are all convicted ex-lawmakers turned lobbyists. In their clients' eyes, their insider connections apparently outweigh their baggage. But their lobbying blunts the deterrent effect that their convictions should have on sitting lawmakers. And it doesn't ease voters' suspicions about the Legislature and influence-peddling in its orbit.

Past calls to ban Harrisburg lobbying by felonious ex-lawmakers have gone nowhere. The time has come to reconsider this practice, which reinforces Pennsylvania's status as the State of Corruption.

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