For years, centrist observers of American politics have bemoaned the decline in civility in Washington and in our state capitols.
Where once lawmakers from both parties would never place their devotion to partisan principles above their commitment to alcoholism and would wile away their afternoons in bipartisan drinking sessions, today's elected officials are much less likely to interact socially with their political opponents. The time pressures of fundraising, the need to please partisan activist bases and the decline of Georgetown salon culture has reduced the spaces in which Democrats and Republicans can come together.
Luckily, there's still one taxpayer-funded locale with bipartisan accommodations – prison…
John Perzel, a Republican from Philadelphia and Bill Deweese, a Democrat from Greene, share the distinction of both having served as Speaker of the Pennsylvania State House.
They also became convicted felons within a month of each other after separate convictions on corruption charges. Now they’re both at Camp Hill state prison, and according to the website PoliticsPA, they're sharing the same cell…
Democratic Rep. Ronald Waters, who serves in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and worked with both Perzel and Deweese prior to their convictions, commented that "to the best of our knowledge, it seems to be true."
The unusual housing arrangement allegedly came about after Deweese, a Democrat convicted of using state funds to pay his campaign staff, was uncomfortable bunking with his original cellmate — his own former chief of staff Mike Manzo. Understandable, as Manzo testified against him.
Luckily, both are facing relatively short sentences. Deweese was sentenced to 30 to 60 months in prison while Perzel will serve 2 to 5 years, barring a successful appeal. It will probably be the first time politicians express gratitude for the existence of "term limits."
Photo by Federal Bureau of Prisons/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Tags: Corruption, Pennsylvania, Prison