JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The state House will not proceed with an effort to impeach Governor Jay Nixon (D), the chairman of its Judiciary Committee told Missourinet Monday afternoon.
Representative Stanley Cox’s (R-Sedalia) committee held two hearings in the last two weeks on three resolutions seeking to impeach Nixon on three different lines of reasoning. After a hearing last week he went to the members of that committee and asked them whether they wanted to vote on the resolutions.
“The majority has expressed that they believe that the allegations contained within the impeachment resolutions are serious, and that the resolutions at least show substantial circumstantial evidence of willful misconduct,” says Cox. “However in their opinion, collectively, this willful misconduct is not sufficient to warrant forwarding the impeachment resolution to the floor of the House.”
Cox says he agrees with the decision of the committee members.
“This decision does not absolve the Governor of wrongdoing,” says Cox. “It’s simply a conclusion that the facts of this case do not justify forwarding the resolution,” to the full House of Representatives.”
Cox says he believes there is strong circumstantial evidence that Nixon violated the laws of the state, but says he and the other Judiciary Committee members did not think the evidence and arguments met the standard for impeachment.
“In making this decision the committee looked at not only what the allegations are, the facts that we were aware of to proceed,” says Cox, “I’m sure the committee members individually and I certainly did as an individual, look at the prospects of anything ever coming of this action.”
The articles of impeachment filed against Nixon accused him of violating the state’s Constitution in three areas.
Representative Nick Marshall (R-Parkville) in February filed two articles of impeachment regarding Nixon’s executive order issued in November instructing the Department of Revenue to accept joint tax returns filed by same-sex couples married in other states. Marshall says that order violates the Missouri Constitution’s definition of marriage as being only between a man and a woman and accuses Nixon of misleading Missourians.
Cox says believes the committee collectively believes there are other resolutions of that issue.
“I believe there will be court cases, and I believe ultimately [Nixon] will be proven to be wrong in his decision,” says Cox.
A week later, Representative Mike Moon (R-Ash Grove) filed one article of impeachment accusing Nixon of taking too long to set special election dates to fill vacant seats in the House and the Senate. Some critics say this has left a quarter-of-a-million Missourians under-represented in the State Capitol.
Cox says this was the “strongest” of the allegations, but he says the committee again did not believe it was appropriate to move forward with impeachment.
Cox tells Missourinet, “The circumstances of the impeachment process or the prospects of any governor being impeached is very minimal at the most, and those factors certainly come into play.”
In March Representative Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville) filed two articles of impeachment alleging Nixon should have disciplined or fired members of the executive branch for their roles in the scanning and retaining of concealed carry endorsement source documents that were twice released to federal authorities.
Cox says Nixon did eventually take some actions to end that document scanning and retention process impacts the weight of the resolution’s allegation.
Some have questioned whether the Republican majority in the House was opposed to moving forward with the impeachment effort. Cox says he was not given any instrucutions from his caucus’ leadership on how to proceed.