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Impeachment petition dismissed against state Rep. Robert Goforth

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Posted at 10:00 AM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 10:00:38-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Kentucky's impeachment committee on Thursday dismissed the impeachment petition against state Rep. Robert Goforth.

But there has been a question surrounding the impeachment since a petition was filed against the Kentucky lawmaker in January.

Can the Kentucky House legally impeach members of the general assembly?

The answer is "no" according to University of Kentucky law professor Josh Douglas.

"The answer to that question is relatively easy," he said. "It does not."

The petition points to serious accusations against Goforth, which stem from an incident at his home in April 2020. That's where police say Goforth tried to hogtie his wife and threatened to kill her. He has been indicted and charged over the situation and has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

But although the accusations are serious, experts say Goforth cannot be impeached over them.

"The allegations are, of course, disturbing, but they are also irrelevant to the legal question at issue," Douglas said.

The reason for that is simple. Experts say impeachment is only for the governor and civil officers. Constitutionally, members of the general assembly cannot be impeached, but they can face expulsion.

"Section 39 of the Kentucky Constitution provides 'that each house of the General Assembly may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish a member for disorderly behavior, and with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member," UK law professor Paul Salamanca said.

And the committee took their advice. After deliberating behind closed doors, it dismissed the petition against Goforth.

The committee also announced Thursday that a new petition was filed against Gov. Andy Beshear, but the petition was quickly dismissed. Two other impeachment petitions against the governor were dismissed last week.

Now only two impeachment petitions remain: the original one against Beshear and one against Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron.