The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 162 to 38 on Tuesday to hold Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (D) in contempt for failing to comply with a committee subpoena. 

The vote came just hours after Pennsylvania’s House Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order voted to recommend holding Krasner in contempt. Panel members have asked the prosecutor’s office to provide them with various documents including grand jury records concerning the upcoming homicide trial of former police officer Ryan Pownall, who shot and killed 30-year-old illegal firearm carrier David Jones during a foot chase in 2018. Krasner balked at the committee’s request and is suing in Commonwealth Court to nullify it. 

All five members of the ad hoc committee voted in favor of the contempt measure, including Philadelphia Democrats Amen Brown and Danilo Burgos. Neither of those representatives initially voted to establish the committee which is seeking solutions to violent crime in the Keystone State and has taken a particularly critical stance toward the lenient Krasner, who many Republican lawmakers have said they hope to impeach and remove from office. 

When the contempt resolution received a vote of the full chamber, all members opposing it were Democrats except for State Representative Mike Puskaric (R-Jefferson Hills). Consequences for Krasner could include jail time. 

Legislators denounced the leftist district attorney for seeking to escape accountability. 

“This is not a decision we, as a committee, came to lightly,” State Representative Torren Ecker (R-Abbottstown), who sits on the committee, said in a statement. “This committee is steadfast in its intention to get to the bottom of the current unrest in Philadelphia and being denied access to important documents hinders progress in achieving that goal.”

House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Bellefonte) reproached Krasner for what he termed an “extraordinary, nearly unprecedented and dangerously undemocratic” action.

“The district attorney is a lawyer, an officer of the court, and a representative of the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and he needs to know that the law is the law,” Benninghoff said. “It applies to the people he refuses to prosecute. It applies to him.” 

Krasner’s office has complained that the select committee is operating “outside the bounds of the law.” 

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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 Larry Krasner.