Burns supports Rep. Conklin's bill barring people convicted of domestic violence from holding public office

HARRISBURG, May 11 – State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, is co-sponsoring legislation that would bar individuals convicted of domestic violence from the state’s legislature or holding any public office of trust or profit in state government.

“Pennsylvania’s constitution prohibits people convicted of ‘embezzlement of public moneys, bribery, perjury or other infamous crime’ from serving in the legislature. It's quite possible domestic violence might qualify as an 'infamous crime' depending on its severity. This legislation would specifically add any conviction of domestic violence,” Burns said.

The Pennsylvania courts have long held infamous crimes to encompass felonies and no person convicted of a felony can hold office. Commonwealth v. Shaver, (3 Watts & Serg. 338 (Pa. 1842)).

Burns said that while felons cannot hold public office, they are not prohibited from running for office; they can only be removed after being certified as a winner and only if a public complaint is filed.

In Pennsylvania it is estimated that one-in-four women and one-in-seven men experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner. There are over 47,000 cases of child abuse reported yearly. At least 109 people have died as a direct result of domestic violence in the last year alone. Pennsylvanians further bear an estimated $156 billion in lifetime economic burdens due to intimate partner violence.

 “As we work in Harrisburg to enact smart policies to reduce rising rates of domestic violence, it is incumbent that legislators do so not only with a clean conscience, but by putting families and the victims of domestic violence – and not their own interests – first,” said Rep. Scott Conklin, who authored the bill. “My bill would ensure that that is the case.”