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Petition to remove Gov. Beshear goes before committee

Posted at 11:35 PM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 23:35:47-05

(LEX 18) — The petition to remove Gov. Andy Beshear from office went before the House Impeachment Committee on Wednesday. However, the committee has still not indicated whether it will dismiss the petition or allow it to move forward.

The petition was filed by four citizens who are unhappy with the governor's actions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The petition states Beshear "violated the rights of millions of Kentuckians" by imposing lockdowns orders that "denied Kentuckians the right and usage of their businesses, their personal freedoms, the freedom of movement, of conscience, of worship, of the ability to gather and speak and protest."

The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in favor of Beshear, saying his actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 were constitutional.

The last time the House Impeachment Committee met, the committee said it would reach out to Beshear and allow him to respond to the accusations against him.

On Wednesday, Chairman Jason Nemes said Gov. Beshear and three of the four petitioners have responded. He also indicated that given the public's interest in this matter, they would keep the proceedings public.

"In the impeachment committees of the past - including the one we had last year - the proceedings and all of the papers and evidence was in confidence," said Rep. Nemes. "We have decided that will not be the case in these proceedings, but we have noted that we have the right to keep something in confidence if it's necessary."

The committee quickly utilized the option to keep things private on Wednesday. It went into a closed executive session for about two and a half hours.

At 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, the committee went back on record with two announcements:

  1. The committee received a letter from a lawyer representing one of the four petitioners. The petitioner, Randall Daniel, would like to withdraw his signature from the petition.
  2. The committee will request additional information from the governor.

The governor's communications team confirmed that Beshear's general counsel also received a letter from Daniel's lawyer.
In the letter, the lawyer, Robert Sexton, writes that he explained to Daniel that "impeachment is not a proper response when public officials make policy decisions with which a citizen disagrees."

The Impeachment Committee didn't specify what additional information it is seeking from the governor, but the chairman says the letter they are sending the governor will be made public.

Two other impeachment petitions have been filed this month - one against Rep. Robert Goforth and one against Attorney General Daniel Cameron. The one against Cameron was filed while lawmakers were on break, so the petition was not sent to the Impeachment Committee yet.

As far as the petition against Goforth goes, the committee's chairman says no action has been taken yet.

"We received the Goforth petition just as we were leaving session - the early part of session," said Nemes. "So, we did not discuss in any manner the Goforth petition other than to acknowledge that we received it."