Pennsylvania state representatives expect to vote Wednesday on whether to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (D); a legislative panel voted to move the idea forward on Tuesday.
All 14 attending members of the state House of Representatives Judiciary Committee supported advancing an impeachment bill sponsored by State Representative Martina White (R-Philadelphia). All eight Democrats present for the vote opposed the legislation.
Many lawmakers say the far-left prosecutor’s laxity on the job has led Philadelphia to suffer its worst spike in violent crime ever. First elected in 2017, Krasner campaigned on being more lenient than his moderate-to-liberal predecessors, attracting the financial support of progressive billionaire George Soros that primary season.
Republicans, who control both houses in the Pennsylvania General Assembly but could lose their control of the House of Representatives next year due to election losses, began preparing legislative responses to the district attorney’s job performance earlier this year. In April, Republicans sponsored a measure imposing term limits on the Philadelphia District Attorney as well as a policy permitting state prosecutors to oversee Philadelphia gun-crime cases, though neither bill won Governor Tom Wolf’s (D) approval.
Two months later, White and other representatives began pushing for Krasner’s impeachment, which would entail a Senate trial to consider his removal. Many families of homicide victims in the City of Brotherly Love rallied in support of the effort. Lawmakers urged any who believed themselves to have experienced injustice in the city to report what they endured via the website stopkrasner.com.
On Tuesday, White expressed hope that her bill would move her city in the direction of more aggressive prosecution and greater public safety.
“I just want to make sure that the citizens of Philadelphia have an opportunity to live their life the way that we all deserve to be able to live,” she told reporters.
Krasner’s office blasted his critics in the general assembly for seeking his ouster, throwing in jabs at Republican electoral failures both in the state House and in the campaign for governor, an office to which Democratic state Attorney General Josh Shapiro will soon ascend.
“Pennsylvania House Republicans are using their final days as lame duck legislators with majority control to engage in a Hail Mary attempt to remove District Attorney Larry Krasner from office,” the statement read. “Instead of learning from their historic losses on November 8th, these legislators — like their failed gubernatorial nominee and colleague Doug Mastriano — are more committed to gutting democracy than working for the people of the Commonwealth.”
The press release also cited statistics meant to demonstrate the tide of violence has not risen as dramatically as Republicans suggest. It states, for instance, that “Philadelphia has seen a reduction in homicides of five percent from one year ago today.”
What Krasner does not emphasize is that that five-percent reduction comes after the city’s homicide rate reached a high of 561 murders in 2021, the highest yearly total ever. There have already been 459 murders this year so far, meaning 2022’s homicide rate will far surpass any annual rate reached this century before Krasner began working as district attorney in 2018.
Should Republicans advance the impeachment bill out of the House, they will need the Senate to conduct a trial and muster two-thirds of the Senate to convict and remove Krasner. They would need some Democrats to join them as their Senate caucus only boasts 29 members.
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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Larry Krasner” by District Attorney Larry Krasner. Background Photo “Pennsylvania State Capitol” by Kumar Appaiah. CC BY-SA 2.0.