The state should consider placing highly visible placards next to portraits of former state officials who are convicted of public corruption as a warning to others.
An Associated Press story noted that a portrait of Robert Mellow, a former Democratic Senate leader, hangs in the Capitol because for about 15 months, he served as state Senate president pro tempore.
But that's not why Mellow should be remembered. He no longer deserves the respect that comes with that office. Instead, he should be recalled for the way his out-of-control hubris led him to break the laws that lawmakers created and that they are supposed to uphold.
On Friday, a federal judge sentenced the Lackawanna County Democrat to 16 months in federal prison, $80,000 in restitution to the state, a $40,000 fine to the federal government and three years' supervised release after he pleaded guilty in May to federal mail fraud and filing a false tax return.
A federal grand jury investigation found Mellow had broken the law by having state employees work on political fundraising and campaigning while on the state payroll. It was a practice that investigators said he continued even after he saw other state lawmakers being investigated in the Bonusgate scandal. That scandal and subsequent investigation led to charges against a number of state representatives and aides and resulted in conviction of former Republican and Democratic House leaders for misuse of state employees or resources. They, too, deserve an asterisk beside any public recognition of their legislative tenure.
The corruption cases of recent years have been a stain on the Legislature and the state, and Pennsylvania taxpayers should have no tolerance for such illegal behavior.
If someone who has earned a spot of recognition, such as having a portrait hung in the Capitol for being in a leadership position, it's only fitting that their criminal records while in office also be noted in an equally visible manner.
It would serve as a reminder to those in office that despite what they might think, they are not above the law.