Capitol building in Downtown Harrisburg, pennsylvania.

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Constitutional law prof: Vanessa Lowery Brown out of Pa. house

December 05, 2018 - 4:00 am

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) —  Questions are swirling about the status of a convicted state lawmaker from Philadelphia, but a prominent constitutional law expert says there’s no doubt that Vanessa Lowery Brown is no longer eligible to serve in the state House.

Philadelphia Democrat Vanessa Lowery Brown was sentenced to probation last week after being convicted on charges stemming from a sting operation that saw several city pols recorded accepting cash. As of late Tuesday afternoon, Brown had still not submitted her resignation. 

But Bruce Ledewitz, a leading expert on Pennsylvania constitutional law at Duquesne University, says it is essentially a moot point.

“A conviction of a count of bribery is an automatic disqualification from any public office, but specifically from the General Assembly,” Ledewitz said. 

The legislature does not return to session until January, when it begins a new two-year session. 

Unopposed on the November ballot, Brown was re-elected for another term but a top aide to state House Speaker Mike Turzai says if Brown shows up seeking to be sworn in with other members for the new session, a motion will be made that Brown not be seated, a motion that could be approved with a “yes” vote of a majority of members.