Impeachment petition filers face thousands in legal bills

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FRANKFORT, Ky (AP) — Gov. Andy Beshear’s legal team has submitted a bill seeking nearly $18,000 in reimbursement from people who unsuccessfully pushed for his impeachment over his actions to slow the spread of COVID-19, according to expenses submitted to lawmakers.

Beshear’s lawyers spent nearly 160 hours in successfully defending the Democratic governor against the impeachment petition filed by a handful of Kentuckians.

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Last month, the House Impeachment Committee recommended that the governor and the attorney general not face removal from office. Both Beshear and Cameron were then directed by the panel to submit “a bill of costs” to the committee by March 3.

The office of Attorney General Daniel Cameron has decided it will not bill those who filed the petition against him, but recommends that the committee charge them for the cost of the investigation, said Victor B. Maddox, Assistant Deputy Attorney General in a letter to the legislative panel on Wednesday.

In Kentucky, unsuccessful petitioners are required to pay back the legal fees incurred by the officer the petition was filed against. They must also pay back panel members and their legal counsel for their time.

Petitioners alleged that Beshear violated the state and U.S. constitutions with a series of coronavirus-related orders issued to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Beshear maintains his actions saved lives.

The Cameron impeachment petition, signed by a group of people including three grand jurors, criticized the Republican attorney general’s handling of the investigation into Breonna Taylor’s shooting death by Louisville police last year. Cameron has defended his actions and insists that he handled the case properly.

Separate reports concluded that the allegations against Beshear and Cameron did not rise to the level of impeachable conduct.

State Rep. C. Ed Massey, a Republican member of the panel, has filed a bill that would only allow members of the House of Representatives to file a written petition to impeach an officer. The petition would have to be signed by two other members.