Missouri legislature will begin impeachment proceedings against governor


Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) (Orlin Wagner/ AP)

UPDATE, 3:40 p.m.: Wednesday’s hearing lasted about an hour and will reconvene next week, The Kansas City Star reports.

A Missouri state House committee will hold hearings Wednesday into three proposed articles of impeachment against Gov. Jay Nixon (D), whom some Republicans say has committed offenses worthy of being removed from office.

One legislator has lodged a complaint over Nixon’s executive order last year that directed state tax officials to accept joint tax returns from same-sex couples who were legally married in other states. Nixon said in November, when he issued the order, that the state should accept the same sorts of tax returns as the Internal Revenue Service, which accepts joint returns from same-sex couples.

Another legislator said Nixon hadn’t moved fast enough to call special elections in three state House districts and a Senate district left vacant by resignations. State law directs the governor to call elections “without delay”; state Rep. Mike Moon’s (R) legislation accuses Nixon of breaking that law.

And a third legislator says Nixon deserves the boot for insufficiently punishing officials at the state Department of Public Safety for releasing a database of Missourians with permits to carry concealed weapons. In 2013, the state Highway Patrol said it had given the list of 163,000 concealed carry permit holders to a Social Security Administration agent in relation to an investigation into fraudulent disability claims.

The list of permit-holders was to be compared to a list of Social Security recipients collecting benefits for mental illness claims. A top Highway Patrol official said at the time the state considered the federal request a part of a criminal investigation. Nixon didn’t immediately fire the officials responsible, as House Republicans had demanded.

Nixon’s office told the Associated Press in February that the charges amounted to little more than a “publicity stunt.” Republicans hold majorities in the state House and Senate, although it’s unlikely the bills will make it to the floor for a final vote.

Even if the House succeeds in impeaching Nixon, it would require five of seven judges appointed by the state Senate to convict Nixon and remove him from office.

Only one statewide officeholder in Missouri’s history has been removed from office. That official, Secretary of State Judith Moriarty, was removed in 1994 after being accused of tampering with documents that allowed her son to run for office.

State Treasurer Larry Brunk was impeached in the 1930s, although he wasn’t convicted, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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