FRANKFORT, Ky. — The head of the newly-formed impeachment committee tasked with addressing a petition against Gov. Andy Beshear (D) says the committee will start work as soon as Wednesday.
Committee chairman Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, said the House is required to respond.
“I don’t think anyone should be overly concerned or excited about the appointment of a committee, which is statutorily required,” Nemes said.
A group of people filed the petition against Beshear last week, claiming his coronavirus orders violated the constitution.
House Speaker David Osborne pushed back against criticism that the House could have just disregarded it because House Democrats have also acknowledged the need for a committee.
“I think we need to dispel the myth that this doesn’t need to be done,” Osborne said.
No one in the House GOP wanted to comment on the merits of the actual petition, saying it would be inappropriate to do so at this stage of the process.
Rep. Jeff Donohue, R-Fairdale, said he understands the need for a committee, but since the Kentucky Supreme Court already sided with Beshear’s coronavirus orders, the petition should be dismissed quickly.
“It’s our responsibility to tell the truth,” Donohue said. “And each one of us, by the mere fact that we are here standing today, our voice carries weight, and so let’s get about going about doing the business that we’re here to do, ok? Let’s move quickly and resolve this matter.”
The committee itself is bipartisan, and Nemes says one of the first steps will likely be inviting Beshear to respond.
“It’s only appropriate to allow someone who has been accused of anything, in any forum, to allow themselves to defend themselves,” Nemes said. “So we’re going to allow the governor to defend themself in writing or in person if they’d like to.”
The people who brought the petition will also get the chance to speak to the committee.
“That’s part of what’s required by due process and the governor is going to be given every opportunity to defend himself and the petitioners are going to be given every opportunity to make the case that they put forward,” Nemes said.
Beshear discussed the impeachment petition during his coronavirus briefing Monday, saying it shouldn’t go anywhere.
“I think that’s one where everybody will rise above and put our democracy here in the state above four individuals who are upset,” Beshear said.
The House convened an impeachment committee with many of the same members last year to examine accusations of misconduct made against former Kenton County Family Court Judge Dawn Gentry, who was accused of misconduct. The coronavirus stalled that committee and the judge waBeshear Critical Of Effort To Weaken His Emergency Authoritys eventually removed by the Judicial Conduct Commission.