Mo. House committee considering vote on impeaching Nixon

Rep. Stanley Cox

Rep. Stanley Cox

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri House Judiciary Committee heard final testimony on Wednesday in favor of resolutions moving to impeach Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

Rep. Stanley Cox, a Sedalia Republican who chairs the committee, said he will now begin meeting with committee members to consider whether to send the resolutions on to the full House.

“I’m going to see if there is a majority of the committee that wants to vote,” Cox said. “I haven’t decided how I’m going to vote. I’m going to talk to the other committee and see how they’re going to be.”

The two days of hearings, which began last week, were to hear three Republican-backed resolutions against Nixon.

One, sponsored by Rep. Nick Marshall, alleges Nixon violated the Missouri Constitution’s provision banning same-sex marriage in issuing an executive order allowing the Missouri Department of Revenue to accept tax returns from same-sex couples filing jointly with the federal government. It was heard last week.

The second, filed by Rep. Mike Moon, was critical of delayed calls for special elections in three vacant House seats. The third, by Rep. Rick Brattin, accused the Nixon administration of releasing private conceal-carry weapons permit source documents to federal authorities. They were heard by the committee on Wednesday.

As they did last week, several committee members, including a handful of Republicans, expressed concerns that any legal issue with action from the governor might be better handled in the judicial system. Moon said impeachment hearings are by definition political and should be seen as a constitutional check on the executive branch.

“Impeachments are only political because they’re not criminal,” he said. “Some would say its political. I’d say it’s a duty.”

Brattin faced perhaps the most critical reception from the committee. He alleges Nixon’s administration violated privacy concerns in releasing data to the federal government in response to subpoenas, but did not state any specific crime Nixon had committed himself.

Instead, Brattin accused Nixon of turning his attention away from the issue and allowing his administration to break the state law banning implementation of REAL ID.

“If I had someone within my platoon that was acting out and not doing what they were ordered to do it was my duty to hold those into account,” said Brattin, a former Marine.

But Nixon did act, and let his director of the Department of Revenue go (he resigned at the height of the controversy last year). Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, noted that the court and the state auditor had sided with Nixon on the controversy in noting that he did not break any laws. In other words, two branches of government have sided with Nixon.

“People have to decide themselves whether it is overreach or not,” Cox said in an interview. “I think that the testimony and the information provided here raises real issues about whether the governor has neglected his duties.”

Cox added that he hoped to decide as soon as later this week on whether to call for a vote in committee.

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