Lame Duck PA House GOP Votes to Impeach DA Krasner

Krasner outside the statehouse in October

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Philadelphia, PA – It is a move many are calling an abuse of power.  The lame duck Pennsylvania House Republican majority voted for an impeachment resolution, where they alleged no misconduct or crime, of Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner.

The move comes despite the fact that the Republicans lost the governor’s race, and lost a critical Senate seat—the only seat to have switched parties in the November election.  Republicans are on the brink of potentially losing their majority for the first time in more than a decade.

The vote was 107-85, mainly along party lines.

There is almost no chance of the impeachment succeeding in the Senate, which would require a 2/3rds vote, and even many Republicans are not eager to continue the effort to remove Krasner.

There is some question as to whether the Senate will even hold a trial.

“In the hundreds of years the Commonwealth has existed, this is the only time the House has used the drastic remedy of impeachment of an elected official because they do not like their ideas,” Krasner responded in terse words.

Twice Krasner has been elected by the voters in Philadelphia; most recently he won overwhelming despite strong efforts to discredit him.

In a strongly worded response, Krasner noted that his reform and the very ideas that they are impeaching him on “are precisely why Philadelphia voters elected and re-elected me to serve as the Philly DA – in two landslides.”

“These ideas include doing more and doing better for victims and survivors, solving crime through modern scientific enforcement, and investing deeply in the prevention of violence. And they are why elected officials who do not live or vote in Philadelphia are trying so hard to erase the votes of Philadelphians: because they preferred the status quo,” Krasner explained.

He added, “They have impeached me without presenting a single shred of evidence connecting our policies to any uptick in crime. We were never given the opportunity to defend our ideas and policies – policies I would have been proud to explain. That Pennsylvania Republicans willfully avoided hearing the facts about my office is shameful.”

The Pennsylvania ACLU pushed back as well.

“As we’ve been saying since the start of this sham impeachment effort targeting DA Krasner, this is both a clear political attack on a duly election official and an effort to disenfranchise the voters of Philadelphia who reelected Mr. Krasner just last year,” said Elizabeth Randol, legislative director at the ACLU of Pennsylvania.  “The election last week was a clear rejection of the type of fear-mongering and tough-on-crime rhetoric that those leading the impeachment effort continue to sell. The people aren’t buying it. “

She added, “Democracy won last Tuesday, but it seems like Republicans in the state House must have missed the news.”

Miriam Krinsky called the vote “a dangerous abuse of power and a deeply alarming attempt by some state lawmakers to disenfranchise voters who overwhelmingly chose Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner to serve their community.”

Last year, she noted, nearly 70 percent of Philadelphians voted to reelect DA Krasner to serve another term in office in both his primary and general elections.

“Today members of the Pennsylvania legislature – 90 percent of whom are white and many of whom represent areas hundreds of miles away from Philadelphia – told Philadelphians – 60 percent of whom are Black or Latino – that they have no voice in determining what safety and justice look like in their city,” Krinsky explained.

She added, “Lacking any evidence that DA Krasner’s policies have led to increased gun violence in Philadelphia, his political opponents in the state legislature have wasted an obscene amount of time and taxpayer money to scapegoat him and subvert the will of Philadelphia’s voters, rather than working with him and his constituents to develop real solutions to crime and violence. This impeachment was not about public safety; it is about political leaders in Harrisburg distracting attention from their own failures to make communities safer.”

“For one individual to completely set aside entire categories of law, as has been done in Philadelphia, is the height of the arrogance of power, and a complete undermining of the rule of law,” said Representative Timothy R. Bonner, a Republican who supported impeachment.

But Krasner pushed back this week with a full response, noting, “The Philadelphia DA’s Office vigorously prosecutes the most serious and violent crimes while upholding its oath to the U.S. and Pennsylvania constitutions.”

They note, “83% of trial-ready fatal shooting cases result in conviction” and “Philly DA’s trial-ready conviction rate for all homicides is 87%” the problem is that there is just a 30 percent arrest rate for fatal shootings by the Philadelphia Police Department, a number that is much lower than the national average.

While crime rates, especially murders and shootings, have gone up, the DA points out, “Violent crime and all categories of crime remain historically low compared with the 1990s.”

He added, “Sensationalized coverage of the troubling increase in gun violence since 2020 distracts attention from prevention and targeted solutions.”

FiveTHirtyEight pointed out, “Crime rates do fluctuate from year to year. In 2020, for example, murder has been up but other crimes are in decline so that the crime rate, overall, is down. And the trend line for violent crime over the last 30 years has been down, not up.”

They added, “The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the rate of violent crimes per 1,000 Americans age 12 and older plummeted from 80 in 1993 to just 23 in 2018. The country has gotten much, much safer, but, somehow, Americans don’t seem to feel that on a knee-jerk, emotional level.”

While progressive DAs have been scrutinized and criticized, Krasner points out that research shows “other jurisdictions run by conservative politicians that have seen higher increases in gun violence.”

Twenty of the 54 U.S. cities that had at least 10 murders in 2019 saw a greater increases in murders 2019-2021 than Philadelphia.

Moreover, “5 of the 13 PA counties with at least 300,000 population saw a larger increase in homicides from 2019-21 than Philly (Chester (267%), Allegheny (72%), Berks (69%), Lehigh (60%), Luzerne (60%).”

A new study led by researchers at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto found “no evidence linking progressive prosecutors to rising homicide rates in major cities during the coronavirus pandemic or prior to it.”

Reggie Shuford, Executive Director, ACLU of Pennsylvania called the impeachment effort “the latest maneuver to undermine the will of Philadelphia voters. These voters used their own discretion to choose a District Attorney who pledged to reduce mass incarceration, rather than continuing the same old punitive policies that we know do not work.”

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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