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Pa. state Democratic lawmaker quietly stripped of committee leadership, Capitol access

State Rep. Kevin Boyle of Philadelphia has been sidelined over what he called “incorrect information” about him. Democratic leaders have not disclosed the reason for their move.

State Rep. Kevin Boyle (D., Philadelphia).
State Rep. Kevin Boyle (D., Philadelphia).Read moreCommonwealth Media Services

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HARRISBURG — State Rep. Kevin Boyle has been stripped of his committee chairmanship and had his access to the Capitol limited in a rare move by Democratic leadership in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Spotlight PA has learned.

Minority Leader Joanna McClinton, who has the power to choose committee chairs within her caucus, removed Boyle from his position as chairman of the House Finance Committee, a move that was finalized last week during a little-noticed, nonvoting session of the chamber.

In an interview Monday, Boyle said that when he arrived at the Capitol this week, he could not enter except through public entrances, which are guarded by Capitol Police and require visitors to pass through a metal detector.

The Philadelphia Democrat said he had been given a new badge Monday but was unsure if it would restore his official Capitol access privileges. Legislators are issued badges that allow them 24-7 access to the Capitol from all doors leading into the building, including ones that are not manned by law enforcement.

McClinton, also a Philadelphia Democrat, did not respond to requests for comment. House Democratic spokesperson Bill Patton also declined comment.

The move to sideline an elected official of their own party is one that legislative leaders have used sparingly. When it has happened in the past, it’s almost always been used either punitively — to punish a lawmaker who has angered leadership — or because of a personnel issue involving the lawmaker.

For his part, Boyle would say only that he believes Democratic House leaders were given “incorrect information about me” over the summer. He would not elaborate.

“I’m not fully certain what their thinking is,” he said of leadership’s recent moves.

A scion of a politically connected Northeast Philadelphia family, Boyle was elected to the legislature in 2010, making headlines when he bested former House Speaker John Perzel. Perzel, a prominent and powerful Republican, had once been considered unbeatable but had been weakened and politically marginalized by a corruption scandal. His brother, U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, has represented the city in Congress since 2015 and previously served in the state House.

Kevin Boyle drew criticism earlier this summer when he posted a tweet attacking Philadelphia City Councilman and fellow Democrat Isaiah Thomas as a fraud and “the worst” councilmember over a piece of legislation. Boyle pulled back the tweet about an hour after he posted it one Sunday night.

The last time a state lawmaker was stripped of a committee chairmanship was over the summer. In that instance, Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R., Centre) removed GOP Sen. Doug Mastriano of Franklin County as the head of a committee tasked with a controversial review of last year’s presidential election.

Corman also yanked Mastriano’s Capitol staff, reassigning them temporarily to other positions within the Republican caucus.

At the time, Corman would say only that he believed Mastriano was too interested in publicity and had been grandstanding. Their dispute, which drew headlines in Pennsylvania and nationally, was widely viewed as a political clash.

Before that, it had been years since leadership had taken steps to oust a lawmaker from a committee.

Limiting a lawmaker’s ability to access the Capitol is even rarer than taking away a committee chairmanship, and it has happened only once in recent history.

In 2018, then-state Rep. Nick Miccarelli, a Republican from Delaware County, was stripped of his security privileges in the Capitol after a fellow GOP lawmaker accused him of stalking and threatening her after their relationship had ended years earlier.

Miccarelli denied the allegations. He did not run for reelection and retired from the legislature when his term was up later that year.

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