BY JOE RAGUSA KENTUCKY
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Lawmakers outlined the next steps in the potential impeachment process against Gov. Andy Beshear.
What You Need To Know
- Gov. Andy Beshear will have a chance to respond to the committee in writing by January 22
- The impeachment petition’s four filers can respond by January 26
- Impeachment committee consists of four Republicans and three Democrats
- Beshear has said the impeachment has no merit
The committee is split with four Republicans and three Democrats, and the members declined to comment on the merits of the petition following Wednesday’s meeting.
“I look at this a lot like a practice in a court of law: so the judge will have an initial filing, which has been made here, then there would be a response and a reply, which is what we’ve outlined,” committee chairman Jason Nemes said. “And then the judge would determine whether to make a decision on the papers, or whether their needs to be a hearing, or whether there needs to be questions asked in other ways, and so it’s not appropriate at this time for me to make any predictions.”
Democrats criticized the committee procedure and even the way the petition was written during the meeting, but otherwise declined to comment on how they personally feel about the petition.
“We are taking this role seriously,” Rep. Angie Hatton said. “We are a part of Kentucky history as it’s being made. I don’t want to be the one that does that wrong.”
Impeach Petition Against Rep. Goforth
Also on Wednesday, eight people filed an impeachment petition against Rep. Robert Goforth, R-East Bernstadt.
Goforth, who ran against former Gov. Matt Bevin in the 2019 primary election and lost, was arrested in April and accused of strangling his wife.
The petition also accuses him of abusing his position as a lawmaker to affect the criminal case after sending out a mailer to voters in his district written by his wife, who made statements saying the two had reconciled.
Spectrum News 1 waited for Goforth after session ended Wednesday to ask him about the petition, but he left through the other side of the chamber and was not available for comment.
House Speaker David Osborne said he’s not worried about more impeachment petitions coming in now that a committee was formed after four people requested one to look into Beshear’s actions.
“There is no joy to be taken in this, I can assure you,” Osborne said. “The law and the Constitution give us guidance, and I think it’s good to observe that guidance when it’s not convenient; when it’s not popular.”
Prior to last year, impeachment petitions were generally handled by the House Judiciary Committee. Osborne noted that the political makeup of that committee is far more skewed in favor of Republicans than the impeachment committee, which has four Republicans and three Democrats.
“We felt inappropriate to allow it to interfere with the normal conducting of business,” Osborne said. “We’re trying everything we can to keep this from being anymore of a distraction than possible.”
The filers of any impeachment petition, if the impeachment committee determines the petition to be frivolous, may be required to pay for costs associated with investigating the charges outlined in the petition.