House Dems hire ousted lawmakers

Two House Democrats who lost their seats found a soft landing  - back in the Capitol.

Reps. Joe Brennan of Lehigh County and Ken Smith of Lackawanna County, cash their last paychecks as lawmakers today.

On Monday they join the House Democratic Caucus staff, a spokesman said.

Both have been embroiled in legal trouble that likely cost them their seats.

Brennan, who will be a research analyst in the legislative policy office, is facing charges of assaulting his wife and drunk driving.

Smith, who will be assigned to the member services office, owes $250,000 in back taxes, state liens and debt to private lenders connected to his family restaurant, according to a report Times-Tribune.

Both will make $72,000. That's a $10,000 pay cut from what they made during their three terms as state legislators but they also get health benefits and their salaries will count toward their pensions.

When asked why they were hired, spokesman Bill Patton credited their time spent in Harrisburg, as lawmakers and in Brennan's case, as a top staffer.

Brennan served for 14 years as a top aide and researcher for his predecessor in the House, T.J. Rooney (who is also the former state Democratic Party chairman).

Capitolwire, the online news service that first reported the story yesterday, notes that hiring ex-lawmakers - including those with legal troubles, is not new for either caucus.

Ex-House Rep. Joe Gladeck of Montgomery County retired in 2000 after his girlfriend accused him of shoving her repeatedly. She later declined press charges. He was hired shortly after by the House Republican Caucus to consult on redistricting efforts.


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