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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Susquehanna, Pennsylvania
    (Susquehanna County)
    Rep Power

    Default Faces of scandal greet Capitol visitors in Harrisburg

    ( I guess Fat Eddie's face will be there too )

    Faces of scandal greet Capitol visitors in Harrisburg
    By Lauren Boyer

    Inquirer Staff Writer

    HARRISBURG - Visitors to the state Capitol barely set foot in the door before they're staring corruption right in the face.

    Busts of 20 public and private officials are cast into the edges of the two bronze, 17-foot-tall doors at the building's main entrance, always left open to symbolize government transparency.

    Nevertheless, almost half of those depicted figured in a 1906 scandal involving millions of dollars that were misappropriated during construction of the Capitol - or, as the newspapers of the day called it, "the palace of graft."

    "It probably makes today's crooks feel right at home," joked Tim Potts, founder of Democracy Rising, a Harrisburg public-interest group.

    Those immortalized in metal, from politicians to craftsmen, were intimately involved with the Capitol's construction. Nine had a role in the scandal, including Auditor General William Snyder and Capitol architect Joseph Huston, who both served time in Eastern State Penitentiary, according to Capitol preservation experts.

    Few in the Capitol know of the checkered pasts of the figures, some with old-fashioned handlebar mustaches, casting hollow stares from the foyer.

    "I've often looked at those doors and thought, 'Who are those geeks?' " said Potts, a former top House aide.

    Huston designed the doors, which the Henry-Bonnard Bronze Co. of New York cast in a process that took 14 months.

    Since their completion in 1905, the faces - sculpted from photographs and painted portraits - have been in good company in a building that has seen its share of disgraced politicians.

    Gov. George H. Earle and four cabinet members were indicted for graft in 1939.

    In the 1970s, 60 members of Gov. Milton J. Shapp's administration were convicted of fraud, while House Speaker Herbert Fineman and Sen. Buddy Cianfrani were embroiled in vote-buying and kickbacks scandals.

    And last week, former Sen. Vincent J. Fumo was sentenced to 55 months in prison on 137 federal corruption counts.

    "Pennsylvania politics is all about closed doors, back doors, and trap doors," said Eric Epstein, director of, a nonpartisan voter-education group. "How fitting that the front door to the Capitol is adorned by shrunken political heads."

    The doors are left open to symbolize transparency and the "open-door" policy toward government that was valued by William Penn, said Ruthann Hubbert-Kemper, executive director of the Capitol Preservation Committee.

    The head of architect Huston flips open, Pez-style, to reveal a secret keyhole. The doors weigh two tons in all but are perfectly balanced and can be opened with the touch of a hand.

    They lock with a foot-long metal key. The original key was stolen 10 years ago when a guard left it unattended on a table near the main entrance, said Joseph Beaty, a Capitol Police officer.

    But that's another Capitol crime story.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Newport, Pennsylvania
    (Perry County)
    Rep Power

    Default Re: Faces of scandal greet Capitol visitors in Harrisburg

    Thank you for that informative piece. When next I am in the capitol I'll have to give those doors a closer look. I better be quick, they may need to sell the doors for scrap to get us out of the current mess!!

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