Impeachment petition against Kentucky lawmaker is dismissed

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP/WTVQ) – A petition seeking a Kentucky lawmaker’s impeachment has been dismissed. A House panel took the action Thursday night.

The bipartisan panel dismissed the petition against Republican Rep. Robert Goforth, of East Bernstadt.

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The vote came after two law professors testified that the impeachment process doesn’t apply to legislators under the state’s constitution.

Rep. Jason Nemes, the committee chairman, says the panel will submit a report offering reasons for the dismissal.

Goforth is a former gubernatorial candidate. He was indicted last year for allegedly trying to strangle his wife and has pleaded not guilty. Goforth says the panel “followed the law” in its decision.

The panel also affirmed its previous decision to dismiss two petitions filed Feb. 1, 2021, to impeach Gov. Andy Beshear; however, the original petition remains that claims the governor abused his power with executive orders designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The panel did formally accept a request from Randall Daniels to have his name removed from the Beshear impeachment petition. Daniels make the request three weeks ago, saying it was a mistake.

The panel also denied requests for the seven members to hear expert testimony in petitions to impeach Attorney General Daniel Cameron for his handling of the Breonna Taylor investigation and Rep. Goforth for his criminal case.

No word yet on when the panel will meet again to discuss the issues.

In the Goforth case, while the impeachment process doesn’t apply to legislators, another part of the constitution allows for a lawmaker’s expulsion by his or her colleagues, the professors said.

After the testimony, the House impeachment panel met behind closed doors for nearly an hour, then reemerged to vote on dismissing the petition. Republican Rep. Jason Nemes, the committee chairman, said the panel will submit a report offering reasons for the dismissal.

Goforth, a former gubernatorial candidate, was indicted last year for allegedly trying to strangle a woman. Goforth has pleaded not guilty. The impeachment petition, filed last month, was signed by several people who said Goforth’s ouster would signal that such abuse will not be tolerated.

Responding to the dismissal of the petition against him, Goforth said the impeachment panel “followed the law and respected the will of the voters.” Goforth, who was reelected by a wide margin last November, said he has been focused on representing his constituents.

Meanwhile, the professors told the impeachment panel the constitution provides another process to remove lawmakers.

“Expulsion, not impeachment, is the constitutional mechanism to oust a legislator from office during his or her term,” said University of Kentucky law professor Joshua A. Douglas.

The state constitution says each legislative chamber may punish a member for disorderly behavior and expel a member based on the concurrence of two-thirds of the chamber, Douglas noted.

The petition against Goforth was part of a flurry of filings aiming to unseat prominent political leaders in Kentucky.

Beshear says there are “zero grounds” for his removal and maintains his COVID-19 orders have saved lives. He portrays the petitioners seeking his ouster as anti-government extremists.

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 petition calling for Cameron’s impeachment includes three grand jurors who criticized his handling of the investigation into Breonna Taylor’s shooting death by police last year.

Cameron has stood by his investigation into the Black woman’s death, which fueled protests over racial injustice. He said his team followed the law and presented a thorough case to the grand jury, adding that the petition against him was “so lacking in legal and factual support” it should be dismissed.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.