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May 15, 2024 3:24 pm

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Pa. House GOP calls for probe of Philly DA Krasner’s handling of lawmaker’s arrest warrant

State Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) speaks at a news conference Tuesday, May 7, 2024, where Republicans called for an investigation of the Philadelphia district attorney’s office’s handling on an arrest warrant for embattled Philadelphia Democratic Rep. Kevin Boyle. (Credit: Peter Hall/Pennsylvania Capital-Star)

Peter Hall, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
May 7, 2024

Republican lawmakers on Tuesday asked Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry to investigate whether the Philadelphia district attorney’s office violated election laws by announcing and subsequently withdrawing an arrest warrant for a Democratic lawmaker days before last month’s primary.

Kevin Boyle, who was seeking the nomination to run for an eighth term, faced a primary challenge by a Democratic Party-backed opponent who entered the race after concerns about Boyle’s mental health became public earlier this year.

State House Republican leaders suggested Tuesday that the warrant had been issued and publicized to influence the election. 

“We know that D.A. Krasner has a history of political, inappropriate, and unprofessional management of his office,” House Minority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) said in a news conference Tuesday. “What we do not know is how this arrest warrant was issued with such a substantial error. What we do not know is what was the motivation behind making a major announcement about the warrant being withdrawn on the eve of the election after a week’s worth of mail-in votes were cast.”

A spokesperson for Philadelphia District Larry Krasner told the Capital-Star on Tuesday the Republicans’ call for an investigation was “merely another instance of political theater by enemies of democracy.”

Krasner spokesperson Dustin Slaughter noted that many of the Republican leaders pushing for the investigation had also falsely contested the 2020 election.

“Perhaps we should be investigating actual attempts to undermine the integrity of our democratic process and continuing attempts to silence Philadelphia voters instead,” Slaughter said. 

Boyle, who has been open about struggles with his mental health in the past, was stripped of his committee assignments and Capitol security privileges in February after an embarrassing video of him circulated on social media. In the cell phone footage, Boyle is seen threatening to have a suburban Philadelphia tavern closed down after he was asked to leave.

The arrest warrant, which Krasner’s office said involved a court order obtained against Boyle by his ex-wife, was first reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer on April 16. 

On April 22, the Monday before the election, Krasner and Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel held a press conference to announce that the arrest warrant had been withdrawn because no court order was in effect that Boyle could have violated. They attributed the error to incomplete information relied upon by police and promised to investigate.

Boyle lost his April 23 reelection bid by more than 45% of the vote to Sean Dougherty, the son of state Supreme Court justice Kevin Dougherty and nephew of former labor leader John Dougherty.

Krasner’s progressive policies on crime and ending mass incarceration have made him a frequent target of criticism from conservative politicians. The state House impeached Krasner in 2022 during the last Legislative session, when Republicans were in control, and the state Supreme Court is considering whether the still Republican-controlled Senate can conduct a trial in the current session.

Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia), the House Republican Caucus secretary, referred to the withdrawal of the warrant as “the latest bungled incident” from Krasner’s office and suggested that it leaves the public wondering whether Krasner coordinated and approved the issuance of the warrant a week before the election.

“There was national media attention around this. A manhunt basically took place looking for this legislator for over a week,” White said. “And then just a big oops. Nothing to see here.”

House Democratic leaders declined to comment Tuesday.

Boyle was previously arrested in 2021 for violating a restraining order obtained by his then-wife and underwent mental health treatment.

His absence from the House during voting sessions last month sparked a partisan debate over whether Democrats could continue to cast votes on his behalf.

Democrats, who control the House by one vote, say they are powerless under the chamber’s rules to revoke the letter that Boyle signed to allow his vote to be cast by the majority whip, a common practice among lawmakers that allows them to attend to other matters during routine votes. 

House Majority Leader Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery) introduced an amendment to House rules that would allow leaders to have a lawmaker declared incapacitated, but the resolution has not been put up for a vote.

Boyle’s whereabouts are still unclear.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Pennsylvania Capital-Star under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.