State Representatives Seek to Impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Krasner

Republican members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Monday circulated a memorandum seeking co-sponsors for articles of impeachment for Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (D). 

Representatives Josh Kail (R-Monaca), Torren Ecker (R-Abbottstown), and Tim O’Neal (R-Washington) wrote in their message to House colleagues that impeachment is a severe option that they would only initiate in the face of a prosecutor’s clear “dereliction of duty.” They charged Krasner with a “willful refusal to enforce Pennsylvania’s criminal laws” in Philadelphia.

“We did not arrive at this decision lightly or easily,” Kail said. “In fact, we are taking this action after we have taken significant steps to pass legislation that addresses violent crime in Philadelphia by ensuring our current laws are enforced. We are starting this process now because the unchecked violent crime in Philadelphia has reached a breaking point due to the willful refusal by District Attorney Krasner to enforce existing laws.”

At a press conference at the Capitol Building in Harrisburg, the representatives discussed a litany of statistics showing the increasingly heavy toll violent crime has taken on the City of Brotherly Love since Krasner took office in 2018. Nearly 800 people have gotten injured and nearly 200 lost their lives so far in 2022 as a result of gunfire in Philadelphia. Last year, homicides numbered 562, nearly twice as many as occurred annually a decade earlier. 

Other major violations have also skyrocketed: property crimes are up more than one-fourth over last year and crime overall has risen by 22 percent. In 2021, the municipality saw 757 carjackings – a spike of more than a third compared with the prior year. 

Kail, Ecker and O’Neal attributed much of these increases to Krasner’s relaxed commitment to enforcement as well as hostility toward the police and tough prosecutors. They note his firing of 31 experienced assistant district attorneys upon taking office, his contention that many misdemeanors don’t warrant prosecution, his general opposition to cash bail, and his loosening of supervision of offenders undergoing parole or probation. 

When campaigning for Philadelphia’s top prosecutorial job in 2017, Krasner’s far-left bent won the largesse of billionaire George Soros whose $1.7 million in donations to the attorney’s primary effort helped the candidate defeat six other Democrats. Krasner subsequently defeated that year’s Republican candidate Beth Grossman by a wide margin; he would achieve similar success against primary challenger Carlos Vega and GOP candidate Chuck Peruto in 2021. 

But the Republicans who want the district attorney gone sense a shift in public consciousness when it comes to crime and its exacerbation by lax law-enforcement officials. The death of three individuals and the injury of 11 others by gunfire on Philadelphia’s vibrant South Street earlier this month was one event bringing the subject to the fore. The June 7 recall of leftist San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin (D) was another. 

Kail, Ecker, and O’Neal said they hope to garner bipartisan backing for Krasner’s impeachment trial followed potentially by his ouster. They’ll need such support especially for the latter; while Republicans control both legislative chambers, their Senate caucus boasts only 29 out of 50 members, five fewer than the two-thirds supermajority they’d need to secure Krasner’s conviction and removal. 

The impeachment sponsors are nonetheless committed to strengthening their case by gathering information directly from Philadelphians who say Krasner has denied them security and justice. Kail, Ecker, and O’Neal are encouraging city residents with firsthand experience of the district attorney’s alleged dereliction of duty to submit accounts of that experience via a new website:

So far, several other Republican lawmakers have indicated support for impeaching Krasner, including Philadelphia’s only GOP representative, Martina White, and the party’s House majority floor leader, Kerry Benninghoff. 

The former is a sponsor of a measure to permit residents to petition to remove a sitting governor, attorney general, or district attorney. That bill received a vote of the House State Government Committee a year ago, with all 15 Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats opposed. 

“Impeachment is a rarely used process, but the time has come,” White said in a statement. “No longer can we allow law-abiding citizens to live in fear or to be victimized by the criminals who have been emboldened by the district attorney. I have co-sponsored the Articles of Impeachment and will support my colleagues in every way possible through the process.”

Krasner’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Larry Krasner” by District Attorney Larry Krasner. Photo “Tim O’Neal” by PA State Rep. Tim O’Neal. Photo “Torren Ecker” by Torren Ecker. Photo “Josh Kail” by Josh Kail. Background Photo “Pennsylvania State Capitol” by Kumar Appaiah. CC BY-SA 2.0.

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