LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — A petition to impeach Gov. Andy Beshear over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the Kentucky House of Representatives to form an impeachment committee.
The effort comes after the Kentucky Supreme Court unanimously ruled in November that Beshear’s executive orders during the pandemic were legal and “necessary.”
Four Kentuckians submitted the petition to impeach to the state House on Friday. Kentucky’s Constitution requires a committee be formed if the House receives a petition for impeachment.
Kentucky has never had a governor successfully impeached in its 228 years of statehood. House Speaker David Osborne on Saturday told Daniel Desrochers of the Lexington Herald-Leader that the petition “just requires that the committee act. And the committee’s action can be nothing.”
The petitioners to impeach included Jacob Clark of Grayson County, Tony Wheatley of Mercer County, Randall Daniel of Bullitt County and Andrew Cooperrider of Fayette County, according to documents obtained by WDRB News. In their petition, the men outlined eight alleged violations — of Kentucky law, the Kentucky Constitution and the U.S. Constitution — against Beshear’s response to the pandemic.
The allegations reference Beshear ordering nonessential businesses to close to in-person traffic, restricting in-person religious services, changing voting procedures, imposing a travel ban and more. One count against the governor alleges he “enacted a series of laws by decree, acting as a one man legislature, and refused to convene the Kentucky General Assembly back into session; and, further, has made a number of public statements indicating his desire to continue to do so.”
Also included in the petition: 50 signed affidavits from Kentuckians who claim Beshear’s actions have risen “to a level of ‘impeachable conduct.'”
“I find that his initial actions in the first 30 days, in responding to the alleged pandemic, may have been justified on the side of caution,” the affidavits state. “But, as more time passed it was clear that the survivability rate of the virus was 98% +/-.”
In upholding the governor’s orders, however, the Kentucky Supreme Court said Beshear properly declared a state of emergency, used his emergency powers and, because his orders and regulations were not arbitrary, did not violate the state constitution.
“The Governor’s orders were, and continue to be, necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of all Kentucky citizens,” the Supreme Court’s ruling said. “This type of highly contagious etiological hazard is precisely the type of emergency that requires a statewide response and properly serves as a basis for the Governor’s actions under” state law.
House leadership expects to have a process in place for the committee by Monday.
In response to the petition, Beshear spokeswoman Crystal Staley released the following statement: “This action is silly and completely unjustified. The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled every step the Governor has taken is legal. But more concerning, this is the type of dangerous, angry rhetoric and disinformation that led to Wednesday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol and our very democracy. People are watching and listening. Everyone has a duty to be responsible.”
Read the petition to impeach in full below:
This story may be updated.
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