A panel of lawmakers voted to dismiss petitions to impeach Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron on Tuesday, though the final decision lies with the full Kentucky House of Representatives.
The decision caps off nearly two months of closed-door meetings of the Kentucky House Impeachment Committee.
Rep. Jason Nemes, a Republican from Louisville and chair of the committee, announced they voted to dismiss the petitions late Tuesday night.
“The committee has found that none of the allegations made against the governor nor the attorney general rise to the level of impeachable offenses,” Nemes said.
Citizen impeachment petitions are normally reviewed by already-existing committees and dismissed with little attention.
But the House took the unusual step of forming the impeachment committee last month after four citizens filed a petition to impeach Beshear, arguing he should be removed for imposing restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
The newly-formed committee then started receiving more citizen petitions to remove officials.
Eight people filed a petition to remove GOP Rep. Robert Goforth, citing allegations that he hogtied and threatened to kill his wife last year. Goforth is fighting charges related to the incident in Laurel County.
And finally, three anonymous grand jurors from the Breonna Taylor case petitioned to remove Cameron, arguing he misled the public about the investigation into Taylor’s death and the charges he presented to grand jurors.
In a 19-page report, the committee recommended dismissing the petition against Beshear, pointing out that the Kentucky Supreme Court already unanimously ruled the governor acted within his powers in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Although some may disagree—even strenuously so—with the Supreme Court’s decision, this Committee finds it compelling that Kentucky’s highest Court ruled unanimously that the Governor was acting within the bounds of the law,” the report states.
Similarly, the committee recommended dismissing the petition against Cameron in an eight-page report, saying petitioners never proved the attorney general misrepresented the Breonna Taylor case.
“If the jurors wished to inquire further into charges of homicide, they had the ability to do so and the Petitioners have produced no evidence to the contrary,” the report states.
“Even if the Committee were to find that the Attorney General made a misstatement (which it does not), the Committee would be hard pressed to find that a public officer could be impeached for merely misstating information at a voluntary press conference, perhaps inadvertently.”
The committee dismissed the impeachment petition against Goforth last week after two University of Kentucky Law School professors testified that state lawmakers can’t be impeached.
Colmon Elridge, chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party, wrote in a statement that Republicans should apologize to the governor for launching the impeachment inquiry.
“Both [House] Speaker Osborne and Rep. Nemes owe the Governor and the people of Kentucky an apology for wasting our time, our patience, and taxpayer dollars on a partisan made-for-tv show,” Elridge wrote.
“Maybe they take their cues from celebrities turned politicians, but the people of Kentucky need help, and it’s unfortunate that the Republican majority has chosen to forsake their constituents for toxic partisanship.”
The petitioners will now have to pay legal costs incurred by the committee and officials they were seeking to impeach.