PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Convicted of five felony counts, PA Rep. Bill DeWeese has filed petitions to run for another two-year term in the state House of Representatives.
Since 1977, DeWeese has represented the 50th House District, now comprised of parts of Fayette, Greene and Washington counties.
“I have a group of folks back home who have circulated petitions over the last three weeks, all of the time when I have been in very challenging circumstances,” DeWeese told KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano.
DeWeese needed only 300 signatures – he got 1,300.
“There are a lot of folks in my home area that feel that — notwithstanding my strong and high regard for the judicial system and the judge and jury — that Mr. Corbett made a very selective prosecution,” insists DeWeese.
But can a convicted felon run for office in Pennsylvania?
“I believe he is allowed to run for public office even after you’re sentenced. I believe you can run even if you’re in jail,” says Bill Costopoulos, DeWeese’s attorney.
Costopoulos says nothing bars him from running but warns, “That doesn’t mean you can serve, if elected. And that’s the Catch 22.”
Waynesburg councilman Mark Fischer, a Republican, says voters are tired of DeWeese.
“I’ve talked to a lot of folks who would like to see a change. Some of it has to do with the legal situation, some of it doesn’t.”
But DeWeese thinks his constituents will re-elect him.
“I could potentially be exonerated in a matter of months,” says DeWeese, “and, therefore, having my name on the ballot would be advantageous.”
Costopoulos will push for an expedited appeal of the verdict.
“He’s got to win the race. I’ve got to win the case.”
DeWeese will be sentenced on April 24th, which, is ironically, election day, the same day he could be re-nominated by his fellow Democrats.
With just 24 hours left to file petitions, no Democrat has filed against him.
But on Monday, a Greene County resident asked the court to toss out DeWeese’s petition, saying he’s ineligible to run.
No court action yet on that.