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White Demands Action on House Ethics in Wake of Sexual Harassment Allegation

As it stands now if you are not a member of the legislature you can’t complain to the House ethics panel if a member sexually harasses you. You’re out of luck.

After testimony from lobbyist Andi Perez that she was sexually harassed by a Democratic state representative, Rep. Martina White sent a strongly worded letter Thursday to House Democratic leaders–Speaker Mark Rozzi and Leader Joanna McClinton–demanding action.

“As part of her moving testimony, which highlighted glaring holes in our ethics rules that have historically prohibited non-House employees from filing sexual harassment complaints against a member of the House, Ms. Perez called for reform of the sexual harassment reporting rules to allow anyone sexually harassed by a member of the House to file a complaint with the House Ethics Committee,” White (R-Philadelphia) wrote.

“This lawmaker decided to caress my leg — I was wearing a skirt — all the while telling me he was impressed by my passion and knowledge of the issues we were discussing. … I moved away from him, hoping he would stop,” Perez said. “He did not.”

Perez did not respond to a request for comment.

House Republicans proposed ethics rules for the special session that, among other things, would allow for sexual harassment complaints to be filed by non-House employees. In a speech from the floor Thursday, GOP Leader Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) noted all 102 House Democrats voted against it.

Cutler also reminded House Democrats that they overwhelmingly opposed House Resolution 192 last session, a bill to tighten House ethical conduct rules regarding sexual harassment.

“I’m glad we’re having this discussion because I wanted to have it some time ago,” Cutler said of the debate over the proposed ethics rules.

White said action is necessary now to protect staff from the unnamed Democratic House member involved in the alleged harassment and who is part of the Democrats’ 102-101 majority.

“This being the case, it is incumbent on the Speaker’s office—who claimed responsibility for managing House space—and the House Democratic Caucus who, implicated in this matter, to ensure members, staff, and outside visitors to the Capitol are kept safe from this individual who now has a history of sexual harassment.

“As a female member of this House, I encourage both of your offices to engage in an investigation to affirmatively identify this member and take any required remedial action, including seeking their resignation,” White wrote.

McClinton also spoke from the fl6oorfloor, mocking Republicans for what she claimed is a new-found concern about harassment in the House.

“I am so grateful that on this day in history the minority caucus is interested in protecting victims of sexual harassment,” McClinton said. In the past, she said, Republicans, dismissed concerns. “But now that we’re here for special session — suddenly everyone in the minority caucus is interested in handling sexual harassment.”

She also claimed the Pennsylvania State House has “a culture where there is harassment, unfortunately, [that] needs to be addressed.” But, McClinton added, “this is not the time or the moment to do that.”

In a statement to DVJournal, McClinton said, “Everyone deserves to feel safe in their workplace, and no person should be harassed or made to feel uncomfortable in the course of doing their job.

“Unfortunately, despite persistent advocacy for many years by the House Democratic Caucus, the rules that have governed our chamber have not provided a pathway for lobbyists, media, and other credentialed personnel whose business requires engaging with House members to report that they’ve been harassed or experienced discrimination.

“As the first woman House Majority Leader, I can affirm that discrimination or harassment of any kind in our institution will be treated with seriousness and urgency and that the forthcoming House operating rules to govern our chamber will include a fair process for claims of harassment and discrimination for all protected classes,” McClinton said.

The Delaware Valley Journal repeatedly reached out to the House member who sources said had touched Perez. He did not respond.



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DelVal Reacts to Krasner Impeachment Resolution

For Philadelphia’s Martina White, filing articles of impeachment against her city’s district attorney is not about Larry Krasner. It is about crime victims.

“Our people have suffered for long enough and his policies have pretty much destroyed our city,” the Republican state representative told DVJournal Wednesday, just hours after announcing the impeachment articles were being filed. And, she said, she saw no reason to wait for the Select Committee process to run its course.

“Earlier this week I took note of a report that was issued by the Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order that described egregious misbehavior and conduct by Larry Krasner’s office and himself,” said White. “So, I just felt compelled to move forward with this. I don’t feel that it’s necessary to wait any longer. Our people have suffered for long enough and his policies have pretty much destroyed our city.”

Mike Chitwood

While the investigation is ongoing, “I just feel compelled to move forward because there are instances of repeated disregard of victims on sentencing matters, such as in the case of Lisa Hart-Newman, who was left to freeze to death as an infant at the scene of her parents’ murders,” said White.

The district attorney’s office never contacted Newman before going before a judge “to advocate on behalf of her parents’ murderer. The staggering amount of dysfunction that has come to light from untrained staff, from top to bottom being too inexperienced to successfully try cases,” said White.

“They have a lack of institutional knowledge on basic courtroom procedures, and it’s led to disastrous results. I mean, we have high levels of withdrawals, dismissals basically, criminals are walking free.”

Retired police officer Mike Chitwood said the impeachment move is good news for area law enforcement. Chitwood, who served 19 years as a Philadelphia officer before becoming police superintendent for Upper Darby, told DVJournal the officers working with this district attorney are very disheartened.

“The morale in the Philadelphia Police Department is zero to none,” said Chitwood. “That’s how bad it is, not only because of Krasner in there but because of the lack of support that they themselves receive from the (Kenney) administration.”

Asked whether Philadelphia voters, who are overwhelmingly Democratic, would just elect another progressive ideologue, Chitwood said, “Here is what really, really galls me, when he ran for reelection and won, where were the voters? Why did they vote him in?”

“He has allowed criminals to run the system. He has allowed criminals to run Philadelphia. And he has allowed criminals to do whatever they do without consequences. Period. That’s exactly what he’s done,” Chitwood added.

And, says White, it is not just voters and legislators upset by Krasner’s performance. Judges have noticed, too.

“Common Pleas Judge Barbara McDermott actually called the office’s prosecutors incompetent,” said White. And Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty, a Philadelphia native, issued a scathing opinion blasting the district attorney’s handling of a case.

Asked what was next, White said it would go to the House Judiciary Committee, then to the full House for a vote. After that the Senate would then have a trial, she said.

“The Speaker, I believe just put on another day (on the House calendar) for us to be able to facilitate running this impeachment article out of the House and get it over to the Senate,” White said.

Krasner had tried to stonewall the committee, she said. But after the House found him to be in contempt he turned over some materials.

Krasner pushed back against the impeachment, accusing the Republican-led House of political grandstanding, since it is shortly before the midterm elections, and also of racism.

White denied those contentions.

“This is specifically regarding public safety and had he not been a bad actor and misbehaving in his duties and responsibilities to the public and to do what’s in the public’s interest, he wouldn’t be going through this,” she said. And as for racism, “I would say it’s a fallacy, it’s a distraction from what is actually happening before our own eyes.

“Black and Brown people are dying on our streets and the district attorney standing there watching it and saying that we don’t have a crisis of crime.”


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‘Krasner Failed Us:’ Emotional Testimony From Crime Victims Sets Tone at Hearing

“Krasner’s office has failed us.”

That was the testimony of Karen McConnell on the first day of the House Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order hearing at the Philadelphia Navy Yard Thursday. While the topic was the crime crisis, the target was progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner.

McConnell lost her granddaughter, Jailene Holton, in June after a man fired 15 shots into the Philly Bar and Restaurant in Northeast Philadelphia. She blamed the district attorney for “pacifying these criminals” who, because of his policies, evaded punishment on prior charges. McConnell was one of several family members of homicide victims who shared their stories with state representatives conducting the hearing.

Krasner and his allies dismissed the bipartisan committee’s investigation as a political stunt. Krasner allies mocked the proceedings by staging a fake “circus” outside, complete with jugglers and clowns. Republicans were outraged.

“This is the kind of respect the supporters of DA Krasner believe victims of violent crime and their families testifying today deserve,” said House GOP spokesperson Jason Gottesman. “This is grotesque and shameful. As tears are shed in today’s hearing over loss of life, Krasner’s supporters are throwing a party. Sickening.”

Supporters of Larry Krasner stage a mock “circus” to protest the House Select Committee Hearing on Restoring Law and Order.

And though the testimony was sometimes emotional, in the committee hearing there were few political fireworks. Rep. John Lawrence (R-West Grove) kept the hearing civil and focused on the testimony. “If you’re expecting simple-minded mudslinging, you will be disappointed.”

In his opening statement, Lawrence avoided rhetoric and instead told how his parents met in the city, attended Temple University, and eventually started a family.

“I would not be here without the story of Philadelphia,” he said. He added, “It would be a dereliction of duty if we did not take action,” and then laid an account of the rising crime and environment of lawlessness on the city’s streets.

“The increase in crime has led to a decline in the quality of life in the city, the regional impact to surrounding areas, and, of course, lifetimes of pain for those who have lost a family member to senseless criminal activity,” said Lawrence.

The four-member committee heard more than an hour of testimony from crime victims and family members of those who lost their lives to criminals. They testified about being discouraged by the slow pace of justice in their cases. Some claimed they did their own investigative work to find information overlooked by police. Others lamented poor communication from city prosecutors assigned to their cases. Longtime residents said their neighborhoods are overrun by emboldened criminals, pointing to suspects who either were arrested and released or had their charges dismissed. Either way, they said, the bad guys were back on the street.

And they blamed Krasner.

Nakisha Billa, who lost her son Domonic in March 2021 in a shooting at the Franklin Mills Mall, said the information provided by the CARES program was not helpful and she had to track down city victims’ services herself. Her testimony echoed a familiar refrain from victims’ families that the District Attorney’s office under Krasner has not put enough resources or attention to those families, she insisted that her testimony was without political motive or invective.

In an exchange with Rep. Amen Brown (D-Philadelphia), Billa said she wanted to leave the city, despite having lived here all her life and Philadelphia still being home to her family and support system.

A particularly poignant moment came when Brown shared a conversation he had with a 100-year-old constituent who wanted him to clean up her block in West Philadelphia. For years she spent part of her day sitting on her porch but said fear of crime had now driven her indoors. “She told me, ‘I want to do it one more time before I pass,'” Brown said.

Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia), the city’s former GOP chair, shared her frustration with the lack of results and her compassion for the city’s victims of crime.

“Larry Krasner has denied these victims a voice,” she said. “He has tipped those scales of justice in favor of the criminals. It’s out of control and we have to do more about it. I’m really grateful that Harrisburg and specifically the members of this committee have come to Philadelphia to learn about what is happening here, firsthand.”

Questioned by a reporter about why Krasner had not been called as a witness, White said, “That is up to the committee. The D.A. has already been extremely disrespectful to the process. He’s ignored subpoenas and was held in contempt out in Harrisburg by a bipartisan majority in the House. It is really time that he pays attention to what the people of Philadelphia want. They want criminals held accountable and they want it to start now. We’re tired of waiting. We need safety and security on our streets.”

As of Wednesday, the city has 401 homicides in 2022 while carjacking eclipsed 1,000 for the first time in history.  And though gun possession arrests have drastically increased recently, conviction rates — the share of cases prosecuted by the district attorney’s office that result in a conviction — for gun possession declined. Between 2015 and 2020, the share of illegal gun possession cases resulting in conviction fell from 65 percent to 42 percent, according to the city controller.

Billa compared the constant reporting on crime statistics to coverage of the score during a basketball game. “Only this is not a game, and I’m tired of losing.”


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PA House GOP Committee to Investigate Progressive DA Krasner

Pennsylvania Republican House members are stepping up their impeachment process against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved a resolution creating the Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order. The resolution, announced by Rep. Josh Kail (R-Beaver/Washington) as part of the ongoing effort to impeach Krasne, now goes to the full House for consideration.

It comes after Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) invited crime victims to come to the capital and tell their stories. Several family members spoke passionately about their loved ones who were murdered in the city, and about their dissatisfaction with the district attorney.

White also blasted Krasner over the city’s crime rate. Violent crime in Philadelphia has increased dramatically since he took office in 2018. Krasner, a progressive Democrat, has espoused an approach that includes dropping gun charges against some defendants and not prosecuting minor crimes. The number of shooting incidents in Philadelphia is up over 7 percent, and the number of shooting victims is up almost 5 percent over last year.

“Since the beginning of the effort to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, we have heard from countless Pennsylvanians, business owners, and families who are fed up with the absolute lawlessness in Philadelphia,” Kail said.

“While DA Krasner has been transparent in his willful dereliction of duty to enforce the law and should be removed from office, it is imperative the House takes a comprehensive approach to holding Philadelphia officials accountable with a full airing of the facts, a comprehensive record, and vetted recommendations as we move forward to ensure state law is respected and enforced in our largest city,” he said.

According to the resolution, the Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order will consist of five members selected by the Speaker of the House—three Republicans and two Democrats—and have subpoena power.

Those members will be appointed after the resolution passes, officials said.

The committee will examine the effect Krasner’s alleged failure to enforce criminal laws in Philadelphia, how state public safety funding for Philadelphia has been used, and whether victims’ rights are properly protected, officials said.

In addition to impeachment and other methods of removal from office, the committee is also empowered to recommend potential legislative or policy changes that could ensure public safety is guaranteed.

“The problem of unchecked crime and violence in Philadelphia is a statewide concern requiring strong and deliberate state action,” Kail added.

“The investigative Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order will take a deep dive into this issue and offer real remedies to ensure local officials like Larry Krasner are held accountable for their refusal to enforce state law and our cities are once again safe,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Krasner did not respond to a request for comment. However, Krasner’s defenders, including Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia), noted Philadelphia voters have elected him twice.

“We can’t go backwards,” Kenyatta said on Facebook. “We have a DA who cares about justice, safety, and accountability. We can’t elect someone who would take us the other way. I’m proud to support Larry Krasner for DA because he’s unabashedly led the charge (to) reform a broken system by building a big winning coalition.”

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In Harrisburg, Crime Victims’ Rallying Cry: ‘Impeach Krasner!’

Tuesday would have been Sean Toomey’s 16th birthday.

Instead of celebrating it with his son, John Toomey attended a rally in Harrisburg hoping to get some small measure of justice by supporting the impeachment of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.

Sean was carrying a case of bottled water from his dad’s car in the Wissinoming section of the city when would-be carjackers assaulted him, shooting him in the head and killing him.

“Someone who commits terrible acts like this should be in prison. The D.A.’s culpable,” said Toomey, his voice breaking with emotion as he spoke. “It’s not his responsibility to act as a defense attorney for those who should be in jail. They already have a defense attorney. That’s taken care of…This individual calls himself a man. Who’s going to bring him back to me, who’s going to bring my boy? I say, impeach this son-of-a-b***h.”

John Toomey talks about his son, Sean, a murder victim.

Toomey isn’t alone. An angry mob of heartbroken parents and outraged lawmakers gathered to support an effort to remove the controversial district attorney from office. Krasner, one of the most progressive prosecutors in the nation, has overseen a huge spike in violent crime and murders in his city. At the same time, notes Kevin Williams at National Review magazine, prosecutions of gun crimes on his watch have plummeted.

“In Philadelphia, the majority of gun cases—60 percent—are simply dismissed with no prosecution, according to the local district attorney’s office. That’s double the dismissal rate of 2016 — and the district attorney is bragging about how few gun crimes get prosecuted,” Williamson wrote.

That dichotomy has energized the impeachment movement.

State Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia), who introduced the speakers at Tuesday’s gathering, supports a resolution to impeach Krasner for failing to do his job that is being circulated in the House. The legislators who introduced it —Reps. Josh Kail (R-Beaver/Washington), Torren Ecker (R- Adams/Cumberland), and Tim O’Neal (Washington)—were also on hand.

“Larry Krasner corrupted that position by ignoring certain offenses and in the process, is usurping the authority of this legislative body,” said White. “Let me be clear that his actions have real consequences. This is about the lives of the many men and women and children who experienced the tragedy and hurt that is the direct result of the dereliction of duty by the district attorney.”

“He has been coddling criminals rather than holding them accountable for their actions,” White said.  By not prosecuting crime, Krasner has “violated his oath of office,” she said. “The proof is overwhelming.”

“The impact on our communities is devastating,” she said. “Lives are lost and our citizens are living in fear.”

People have died after being shot, others were injured or traumatized by criminals who should have been in jail, White added. In 2021 there were 562 homicides in Philadelphia, an increase of 78 percent from the year before Krasner took office.

Nakisha Billa told the story of her son Dominic Billa-Lewis, 20, who was gunned down in the food court of the Northeast Philly mall in March. Billa-Lewis, who had worked since he was 14 years old and “paid taxes,” was at the mall to buy a new pair of pants for a job interview.

Billa said she was on her way to the mall when she saw police, an ambulance, and a helicopter heading that way. She prayed her child was okay. She did not know she was “feet away from my baby, laying in the mall, dying,” she said.

“Never would I have guessed that he would encounter criminals, repeat offenses criminals,” she said. “Never would I have imagined this would happen…At what point do we hold those that are responsible to account? How many sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, that we have to lose before someone makes it right and stops it? Never had I heard so many homicides of women that are pregnant, children that are dying, babies?”

Billa, who voted for Krasner because he was a civil rights attorney, now says the lawlessness in Philadelphia “is beyond out of control.

“We need to do whatever it takes to change. Never would I have supported him if I knew he’d be offering deals for murder, for taking someone’s life,” she said.

Julio Moran Jr. spoke about his mother, describing her as church-going and less than 5 feet tall.  She had gotten a protection-from-abuse order against a man who had hurt her.

However, the district attorney’s office refused to help her in court in January 2021 and the abusive person killed her, Moran said.

“They would not hold the offender accountable for his actions,” said Moran. “This was a violent predator.”

“She didn’t just fall through the cracks of the criminal justice system,” he said. “She fell through a trap door created by Krasner and his group of false public servants. For us, this is not about politics. This is about keeping malicious politicians from destroying the institutions that protect us.

“We’re devastated by the loss of our mom. Her grandkids miss her…One day they will have to fully understand why she isn’t able to be part of their lives anymore.”

Sukhvir Thind, who runs a convenience store, complained that “retail theft is at an all-time high. Criminals know that he [Krasner] is not going to prosecute. So they [are released] before our shift ends. My employees, they are scared to come to work. They know they could be the next victim of any gun violence or any crime. So we want the D.A. to start prosecuting retail theft and be aggressive on gun violence. Do your job and bulletproof the city.”

White insisted the opposition to Krasner isn’t just more partisan politics.

“This is more than a call to action,” she said. “It is an outcry to help save lives and keep our community safe.”

Krasner could not be reached for comment.


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‘Enough Is Enough:’ GOP Legislators Target Philly DA Krasner For Impeachment

A group of state House Republicans announced Monday they are launching an effort to impeach Philadelphia’s progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner to “highlight his absolute dereliction of duty.”

“Lives have been lost,” said Rep. Josh Kail (R-Beaver/Washington), one of the three lawmakers to begin circulating the impeachment legislation. “Property has been destroyed. And families have been crushed. Enough is enough.”

Rep. Torren Ecker (R-Adams/Cumberland) is also part of the effort, along with Tim O’Neal (R-Washington). “Krasner said six months ago, ‘We do not believe arresting people and convicting them for illegal gun possession is a viable strategy to reduce shooting,'” Ecker noted.

“Since that time there have been nearly 950 people injured or killed as a result of gun violence in Philadelphia,” Ecker continued, “a nearly 7 percent increase over last year. There have been 220 homicides in the city of Philadelphia, 194 fatal shootings, and 796 nonfatal shootings. There’s been an 8 percent increase in shooting incidents in Philadelphia. It’s widespread lawlessness in the city of Philadelphia.”

Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) backs the impeachment effort.

“The lawlessness in Philadelphia has been exasperated by the intentional lack of adequate prosecution by and under Krasner’s direction. That is coming to an end,” White said.

“Impeachment is a rarely used process, but the time has come,” she said. “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 want to thank my colleagues for standing with Pennsylvanians and announcing they will be introducing articles of impeachment for Larry Krasner. I have co-sponsored the articles and will support my colleagues in every way possible through the process,” White said.

The plan to impeach the progressive distinct attorney echoes the successful effort in California where voters in deep-blue San Francisco threw far-left prosecutor Chesa Boudin out of office two weeks ago. Removing Krasner has support from some legislative heavy hitters.

“Now is the time to have a serious discussion about impeaching Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner,” said Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin). “Philadelphia’s unchecked crime problem is a statewide concern and the district attorney’s open refusal to enforce current Pennsylvania law in the city is a clear dereliction of his duty to keep Philadelphians and Pennsylvanians safe.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte) called for Krasner’s impeachment when he was campaigning for governor earlier this year.

“Today’s announcement couldn’t come soon enough,” said a spokesman for Corman. “Philadelphians deserve a D.A. who puts dangerous criminals behind bars instead of letting them back out onto the streets to seek more victims.”

A simple majority vote will be required in the House to impeach Krasner. It would take a two-thirds vote for the Senate to convict him.

Dom Giordano, a Philadelphia resident and talk radio host, has long decried Krasner’s handling of crime in the city.

“We’ve been involved in this pounding and pounding away,”  said Giordano.

He says he believes Krasner will likely be his own worst enemy when he goes before the House to testify with “his typical arrogance and smugness.

“It’s his arrogance. He’s just one of a kind. These other guys can’t hold a candle to him, the other progressive prosecutors. He’s dug in,” Giordano said.

Giordano noted that after the South Street shooting, Mayor Jim Kenney commented about the violence and the lack of prosecution of crime.

Kenney said, “We cannot accept continued violence as a way of life in our country. Until we address the availability and ease of access to firearms, we will always be fighting an uphill battle.”

That comment from Kenney might also be a turning point, said Giordano.

Giordano said the impeachment will get bipartisan support since Democrats are up for re-election, some facing competitive races.

Krasner did not respond to a request for comment.

However, Rep. Ben Sanchez (D-Abington) called the impeachment effort a “political stunt by three legislators who live nowhere near Philadelphia and who are looking to deflect from the pressure millions of Americans are putting on them right now to enact commonsense gun safety reform.

“I would implore those legislators to work on gun safety legislation to address this problem which has existed long before D.A. Larry Krasner was twice elected. We could start by passing House Bill 980 which would require lost and stolen firearms reporting and help reduce the flow of illegal guns to the City of Philadelphia and its suburbs.”


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Hoping to Make Inroads with Black Voters, GOP Opens Philly Community Center

Paris Dennard was among the Republican luminaries who attended a rally to open a new Republican National Committee (RNC) Community Center in Philadelphia’s Germantown section.

The center, which opened last week, is one of three new RNC community centers around the country, part of the party’s outreach to minority community voters. It will house ward leader meetings, social events, community gatherings, and voter registration drives. At the opening, the late Daphne Gibbons, a Philadelphia ward leader, was recognized with a plaque presented to her sons and grandson.

Dennard, a GOP strategist, commentator, and writer, is currently RNC director of Black media affairs.

Asked by the Delaware Valley Journal about Democrat politicians who seem to believe they can use the name “Trump” and claim Republicans are for voter suppression to win this fall, Dennard cited Republican wins last November in Virginia.

“How they tried to insert President Trump’s name as a negative factor, and it backfired,” said Dennard. “And you have Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who won with 13 percent of the Black vote, and Winsome Sears become the first Black immigrant, as well as veteran (and) Black woman, to become lieutenant governor, winning 17 percent of the Black vote.

“In places like Georgia, they tried to lie about the laws, saying that you can’t get food and drink in lines,” Dennard said. “They said things that were just absolutely not true, which led to Georgia losing $100 million in revenue when they removed the (2021) All-Star game from there. I think the Black community is smart enough to understand what these laws are doing and differentiate between the tried and true liberal rhetoric of division and race-baiting versus the actuality of what Republicans are trying to do, which is to make it easier for people to vote and harder for people to cheat.”

Dennard worked in the White House for President George W. Bush.

“It was the great honor of a lifetime,” he said. “I was 24 years old and right out of college. And being there at so many historical moments in a Republican administration was truly humbling and something I’ll never forget.”

The Republican Party has welcomed him and is inclusive, he said.

“I’m living proof of the inclusivity of our party,” said Dennard. And he said more than 80 Black Republicans are running for Congress this election cycle.

Philadelphia ward leaders, candidates and public officials, as well as community members, packed the new RNC Community Center on Wayne Avenue, listening to speakers, then enjoying a dinner that featured fried chicken and cornbread.

Lawrence Tabas

“This office is just a first step. It is a step that will be critical and important,” said Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Lawrence Tabas.

All Republicans “need to begin a listening tour so that we can start to work together and build a partnership. And I don’t mean just when the cameras are rolling. I don’t mean just during an election cycle like this. I mean, all throughout the year…the ideas and the programs and policies that you can talk to us about so we can put them into action will be critical.”

Calvin Tucker, deputy chairman of the Pennsylvania GOP, said, “We’re standing here in the heart of Germantown. We are steeped with history and culture. I just want to go back to 1688 in our community, here in Germantown. The Germantown members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), they were the first group in this nation to stand against slavery. That’s an investment they made at that point, in human nature. Today the RNC, the Pennsylvania GOP, and the Philly GOP are making an additional investment in who we are because it’s important.”

Calvin Tucker

While we had record low unemployment for everyone, including African Americans, under President Trump, now there is ‘Bidenflation.’ We have invasions. We long for those days when we had strength.”

State Rep. Martina White, chair of the Philly GOP, gave a rousing speech.

“We know what we’ve been through in these past 60 years of Democrat rule in the city of Philadelphia,” said White. “And while they may call it progress, I’ll tell you–” The crowd laughed. She told them it was important to talk to their friends and relatives about politics.

“Homicides are at historic highs in our city,” said White. “Criminals on our streets are stealing the lives of our youths and ripping away any comfort and safety for our families and business owners that they did at one time have in our neighborhoods. We believe in fully funding law enforcement so they can provide community policing. We want the district attorney to prosecute criminals who are breaking our laws and terrorizing our communities.”

Rep. Martina White

She also touched on school choice so students can get a “quality education regardless of their Zip code,” saying Democrats are in the “pockets of the teachers’ unions.”

Dennard also spoke to the crowd, saying that besides the new community centers, the RNC made “a five-figure media buy” on Black news stations for Black History Month, honoring Black Republican elected officials.

RNC Co-Chair Tommy Hicks rallied the audience.

“We’ve all got to do our part to make sure the 21st century is the American 21st century,” said Hicks. “And unfortunately that is not a given. It’s clear that our nation is suffering under the failed leadership of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and the Squad who rules all of them.”

He added, “Inflation (at) 40-year highs, the price of everything from food, transportation to heating oil is going up. This is a hidden tax on the American people esp. affecting the middle class and lower-income Americans. You name it, it’s going up…And this sagging economy is a direct result of the Democrat Party, their failed policies are making life harder on all of us.”

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DelVal Rep. Williams Calls Out Shapiro over Philly Gun Violence, Wants More State Action on Crime

Delaware County state Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford) says Attorney General Josh Shapiro has been a no-show in the fight against Philadelphia’s surging violent crime, and he says that needs to change.

“Attorney General Josh Shapiro has routinely blamed the General Assembly for violence in Philadelphia,” Williams said during a press conference outside the Attorney General’s Office. “Yet when given authority to prosecute gun crime in Philadelphia, he said expressly he would not use it. We intend to give him another chance to pitch into the fight.”

In 2021, Philadelphia recorded 562 homicides and 2,332 shootings. The highest previous year was 500 homicides in 1990. And the murder rate in 2022 is already on pace to eclipse last year’s record high. Additionally, gunpoint carjackings have nearly tripled since 2019, with more than 100 already in 2022. Even a congresswoman was a carjacking victim.

Hoping to make a dent in gun crimes, Williams joined with state Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) to extend a two-year pilot program giving Shapiro jurisdiction to enforce gun crime laws. In 2019, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a law (Act 58) giving the attorney general the authority to investigate and charge certain gun crimes in Philadelphia.

White said during a Tuesday press conference outside the Attorney General’s Office, unfortunately, Shapiro has yet to use the law a single time to get a criminal off Pennsylvania streets.

“Even though the murder rate in Philadelphia rose to record levels, Attorney General Josh Shapiro refused to use this new tool to help us fight crime in Philadelphia,” White said. “Nonetheless, we’re extending the law to give Shapiro a second chance to do what is right as gun crime continues to rise. It’s clear the state must step in to protect the people of Philadelphia from their irresponsible district attorney, Larry Krasner, and that person is the attorney general of Pennsylvania.”

Republicans argue Shapiro needs to step up because of District Attorney Larry Krasner’s extreme progressive policies.

“Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is an ineffective prosecutor, who has refused to fully prosecute many offenses,” White said. “What is of grave concern though, is his refusal to prosecute our state’s most serious crimes, which he has left a trail of murder victims and devastated communities. Our brave law enforcement officers are out there every day doing absolutely everything that they can to arrest these criminals and protect our communities.

“As state officials, we have a responsibility to oversee public safety in our cities and counties. When local officials refuse to act, we must,” she said.

Williams, a former federal prosecutor, said $1.5 million in funding he secured to hire more gun prosecutors in Philadelphia and Delaware Counties, has now come online. The money will flow to the Project Safe Neighborhoods program, which deputizes those local prosecutors as federal prosecutors, who will bring the weight of federal statutes on felons who are not permitted to have a gun. Federal sentences are longer and there is no probation, he noted.

Shapiro rejected the proposal as mere partisanship.

“We appreciate the trust our office has earned from the General Assembly for expanding our fight against gun violence to keep Pennsylvanians safe,” said Shapiro, in a statement. “This proposal is a fake solution to a very real problem in Philadelphia, put forth with no input from our office. There are meaningful steps to be taken – but everyone needs to be serious and get to work.”

“The General Assembly should stop passing the buck and act. Close the ghost gun loophole that is fueling violence and putting guns in the hands of criminals. Pass mandatory bail reform for gun crimes so these criminals aren’t back out on our streets the very next day. And help cities fill hundreds of police officer vacancies and expand services. These steps would actually help reduce violence – not this finger-pointing.”

In the meantime, the Gun Violence Task Force, with cross-designated prosecutors, has prosecuted four cases in 2019, 24 in 2020, and 38 in 2021, the Attorney General’s Office said.  There were 571 ghost guns recovered in Philadelphia in 2021, up 128 percent from 2020 and up 489 percent from 2019. Ghost guns are weapons that are homemade and untraceable. Nearly 10 percent of firearms found by the Philadelphia Police Department are ghost guns.

Shapiro noted he has Strategic Response teams in place, working with the Philadelphia police,  in West Philadelphia and Kensington.

Krasner spokeswoman Jane Roh did not respond to Delaware Valley Journal’s request for comment. However, she told PennLive that White and Williams’ news conference was a “comically timed stunt” held on the same day the Republican majority in the state Senate was scheduled to vote on a bill to block Philadelphia and other local governments from “enacting life-saving gun restrictions because these same lawmakers will not.”

However, White and Williams said they are giving the attorney general another chance to buy into Act 58 in the wake of the record number of homicides in the city.

“So, we’re putting the ball on a tee for him again,” said Williams.

“When there is no cooperation, people lose their lives,” White said. “That’s why we must extend this law and demand Attorney General Josh Shapiro prosecute the law the way District Attorney Larry Krasner will not. Lives depend on it.”

Meanwhile, Delaware County DA Jack Stollsteimer is cooperating with state officials.

He “welcomes any and every resource to stop gun violence in Delaware County. Our office was only notified that grant funding for this program was available in the last week; we have however, immediately taken steps to seek County Council’s approval to accept the grant at its first meeting in February. It’s important to note that while adding several federal prosecutors to the US Attorney’s Office to handle gun cases will no doubt affect the problem of gun violence in our region, it is no panacea.  For example, (the DA) has already instituted, without federal resources, a focused deterrence strategy in the City of Chester that has led to a 44 percent reduction in incidents of gun violence during 2021,” said Maggie McAboy, a spokeswoman.

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