Now that Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Darr has drawn a line in the sand, Democrats, and almost certainly a few Republicans, are prepared to step across.
House Speaker Davy Carter has issued a statement relative to a process for the House to follow in deciding whether to vote to impeach Darr. It would require 51 votes in a House with 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats and a Green Party member who votes with Democrats. Democratic Minority Leader Greg Leding has said Democrats will press for impeachment.
Impeachment would send the matter to a Senate trial, where two-thirds, or 24 votes of the 35-member Senate, would be required to remove Darr. Senate President Pro Tem Michael Lamoureux has evinced no enthusiasm for an impeachment proceeding so far, but a trial would seem to be mandatory after a House impeachment vote.
More to come. This process would, I’d think, increase pressure on Darr to reconsider his decision not to resign. Otherwise, he forces a vote by Party colleagues, an indelible mark on where they stand on expense and campaign account cheating.
“Today’s events have raised the level of inquiries into my office regarding the mechanics of the impeachment process. From research conducted by my office, no one has ever been impeached in Arkansas under our current Constitution written in 1874. Moreover, there are limited statutes on the subject and virtually no precedence in the House to look to for procedural guidance. Everyone is entitled to due process before substantive judgments are made, and, as we sit here today, there is no clear process clearly established in the House. Accordingly, my office is contemplating a couple of avenues in which to provide a proper process should the majority of members decide to pursue impeachment. The most likely scenario at this juncture would be the appointment of eight to ten House members to a bi-partisan ad hoc committee charged with making procedural recommendations to the House Committee on Rules. “
Old-timers might remember the removal of Sen. Guy “Mutt” Jones of Conway in 1974 after his conviction of tax evasion. That was not the result of an impeachment proceeding, but a vote of the Senate to expel. It followed a public outcry when the Senate first refused to expel the influential senator.
UPDATE: And this just in via Twitter from the AP’s Andrew DeMillo:
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Ark. House GOP leader: Impeachment ‘inevitable’ if lt. gov. doesn’t resign over ethics case.
The House majority leader is Rep. Bruce Westerman. Darr briefly planned to challenge him for Congress.
PS: On the jump, read everything the Constitution has to say about impeachment:
1. Officers subject to impeachment – Grounds.
The Governor and all State officers, Judges of the Supreme and Circuit Courts, Chancellors and
Prosecuting Attorneys, shall be liable to impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors, and
gross misconduct in office; but the judgment shall go no further than removal from office and
disqualification to hold any office of honor, trust or profit under this State. An impeachment,
whether successful or not, shall be no bar to an indictment.
2. Impeachment by House – Trial by Senate – Presiding officer.
The House of Representatives shall have the sole power of impeachment. All impeachments
shall be tried by the Senate. When sitting for that purpose, the Senators shall be upon oath or
affirmation; no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the members
thereof. The Chief Justice shall preside, unless he is impeached or otherwise disqualified, when
the Senate shall select a presiding officer.
3. Officers removable by Governor upon address.
The governor, upon the joint address of two-thirds of all the members elected to each House of
the General Assembly, for good cause, may remove the Auditor, Treasurer, Secretary of State,
Attorney-General, Judges of the Supreme and Circuit Courts, Chancellors and Prosecuting
Then from the statutes:
In this subchapter:
(1) “Articles of impeachment” means the written accusation of the officer, drawn up and approved by the House of Representatives. The articles shall state with reasonable certainty the misdemeanors in office for which the officer is impeached, and, if there is more than one (1), the misdemeanors shall be stated separately and distinctly; and
(2) “Impeachment” means the prosecution, by the House of Representatives before the Senate, of the Governor or other civil officer for misdemeanor in office.
21-12-202. Suspension of impeached officer.
(a) When any officer shall be impeached, he or she is declared to be suspended from exercising his or her office, after he or she shall be notified thereof, until he or she is acquitted.
(b) If the President of the Senate be impeached, notice shall be immediately given by the House of Representatives to the Senate, that another President of the Senate may be appointed.
(c) In all cases of impeachment of any officer of this state, the Governor is authorized to appoint some suitable person to perform the functions of the office from which the officer is suspended until the case of impeachment is disposed of by trial or otherwise, according to law. The person so appointed shall receive the same salary and emoluments as the officer impeached.
21-12-203. Initiation of proceedings.
(a) When articles of impeachment have been approved by the House of Representatives and impeachment ordered, a committee shall be appointed to prosecute the impeachment, whose chair, within five (5) days, shall bring the same before the Senate.
(b) The Senate shall appoint a day for hearing the impeachment.
(c) (1) The accused shall be summoned by a precept issued by the Secretary of State to appear on that day.
(2) The precept shall be served by delivering a copy of the precept and of the articles of impeachment to the accused in person, if to be found, or by leaving the copies at his or her residence with some member of his or her family over sixteen (16) years of age.
(d) (1) Upon the appearance of the accused, he or she shall have reasonable time to answer the impeachment, and when the answer shall be filed, the committee may reply thereto.
(2) When issue shall be joined on any such impeachment, the Senate shall appoint a time for the trial.
(e) If the accused shall not appear after being notified, or after appearing shall fail to answer, the Senate may proceed ex parte.
21-12-204. Attendance of witnesses.
(a) The Senate shall have power of coercing the attendance of witnesses and of compelling them to testify and of coercing the production of books and papers, by fine and imprisonment to such extent as shall be necessary.
(b) (1) The Secretary of the Senate, at the request of the chair of the committee prosecuting the impeachment, or of the accused, shall issue process for summoning witnesses and for producing books and papers.
(2) In case of disobedience of the process, the Senate shall order the clerk to issue process for arresting the witnesses and seizing the books and papers, which process may be executed by the peace officers of the counties or by officers especially appointed for that purpose by the Senate.
(c) Witnesses shall have the same compensation for travel and attendance, and the same exemption in going, remaining, and returning, as witnesses in the circuit courts.
(d) Officers executing the process and orders of the Senate shall have like fees for their services.
21-12-205. Depositions of witnesses.
(a) The President of the Senate, on the application of the accused, or any of his or her counsel, or of the chair of the committee prosecuting the impeachment, shall issue commissions to take depositions where the witness is unable to attend from sickness or other infirmity or where the witness is without the limits of the state.
(b) Depositions shall be taken in the same manner, and the same notice shall be given, as where depositions are to be taken in the circuit court.
(a) Before the Senate proceeds to try the impeachment, the President of the Senate and every Senator present shall take the following oath or affirmation: “I do solemnly swear or affirm that I will faithfully and impartially try the impeachment against A. B., and give my decision according to the law and evidence.”
(b) (1) The members being sworn, the Senate shall proceed to hear, try, and determine the impeachment and may adjourn the trial to any other time.
(2) The Senate shall determine questions of law arising during the trial, upon the admissibility of evidence, the competency of witnesses, and otherwise.
(3) The Senate may punish any person for contempt committed toward the Senate or for obstructing the administration of justice on the trial, in as full a manner as any court of record could do for a like contempt toward the court.
(c) In all impeachment trials, the accused shall have a right to be heard by himself or herself and his or her counsel.
(d) (1) All votes on any question whatever shall be given viva voce and entered on the journals.
(2) No judgment or sentence of conviction shall be given against any person upon any impeachment without the concurrence of two-thirds (2/3) of the Senators elected.
(3) The Senate shall determine what amount of absence of a Senator during the trial shall exclude the Senator from voting in the final decision.
21-12-207. Transcript of proceedings.
The Secretary of the Senate shall make out a transcript of the proceedings on impeachment and of the judgment of the Senate, whether of conviction or acquittal, which shall be signed by the officer presiding at the trial, attested by the Secretary of the Senate and deposited in the office of the Secretary of State.
21-12-208. Decision no bar to indictment.
The party convicted or acquitted shall, notwithstanding such acquittal or conviction, be subject to indictment, trial, judgment, and punishment for any indictable offense, according to the law of the land.
21-12-209. Allocation of costs.
(a) (1) If the accused is acquitted, he or she shall be entitled to his or her costs, to be taxed by the Secretary of the Senate and paid by the Treasurer of State.
(2) If convicted, the accused shall pay the costs, to be taxed by the Secretary of the Senate, and recovered upon a motion by the Attorney General in the Pulaski County Circuit Court, at the first term thereof, without notice, or afterward on notice.
(b) (1) If the impeachment is prosecuted on the petition of some citizen of the state, whose name is set at the foot of the articles of impeachment, the petitioner shall be liable for the costs of the accused if he or she is acquitted and also for the costs of prosecuting the impeachment, and, in that case, the state shall not be liable to pay any part of the costs.
(2) (A) If the accused is convicted, the petitioner shall be entitled to recover from the accused the costs of the impeachment, for which the accused is liable.
(B) The costs shall be taxed by the Secretary of the Senate and recovered by suit in a court of competent jurisdiction.