GOP-led Kentucky panel keeps Gov. Beshear impeachment alive

Published 7:37 am Saturday, February 6, 2021

A Republican-led legislative panel dismissed two petitions Friday calling for Gov. Andy Beshear’s impeachment but kept alive another effort by citizens seeking the Democrat’s ouster for his restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Kentucky.

The rejected petitions were the latest in a flurry of filings aiming to unseat prominent political leaders in Kentucky, an unprecedented phenomenon in the state’s recent history. Another pending petition targets the state’s Republican attorney general.

The two anti-Beshear petitions were dismissed for failing to meet statutory requirements, said Republican Rep. Jason Nemes, the committee chairman.

But the House panel renewed its request for more information from Beshear as it reviews the remaining petition, the first one filed against the governor, Nemes said. Just four Kentuckians signed that petition, though one of them signaled he wants to withdraw. All three petitions claim the governor improperly infringed on individual rights with his coronavirus-related orders.

Kentucky’s Supreme Court ruled last year that the governor had the authority to put restrictions on businesses and individuals to try to contain the coronavirus.

The House impeachment panel previously sought information from Beshear on how his virus-related ban on mass gatherings last spring was temporarily enforced against churches, a move that especially angered conservatives. The committee resubmitted its request Friday that the governor turn over emails, phone logs or other communications related to that order.

In his letter to the governor’s lawyer, Nemes said the records “may be subpoenaed” if necessary. The lack of those records has “delayed the process,” Nemes said.

Beshear’s office said a response will be submitted Monday. His general counsel previously replied that the “extraneous information” being sought “cannot form the basis for impeachment.”

The impeachment frenzy reflects a willingness by some Kentuckians to shatter long-established political norms in an increasingly bitter political divide. It follows closely on the heels of the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump.