Letter to the editor: Writer says Delaware law delineates governor’s path to auditor impeachment
To maintain public confidence in the Delaware state government, Governor John Carney must call the General Assembly into “special session” to begin the process of impeachment of State Auditor Kathy McGuiness for her three convictions for misdemeanor during his tenure.
Article VI of the Delaware Constitution on Impeachment and Treason states: “The House of Representatives shall have exclusive power of impeachment; but two-thirds of all members must agree to an impeachment.
Further, “the governor and all other civil officers under this state shall be liable to impeachment for treason, bribery, or any felony or felony in the course of their duties.”
Although the session of the General Assembly ended on June 30, 2022, the governor has the power to call a “special session” of the General Assembly to deal with the conviction of the State Auditor, that is- i.e. his dismissal. Moreover, convictions for misdemeanors in power would certainly qualify as an “extraordinary occasion,” justifying the calling of a special session.
The constitution also states, “He or she (the governor) may, on extraordinary occasions, call the General Assembly by proclamation.”
Once the General Assembly has called into special session, it is up to the House of Representatives to take the next step in the impeachment process. If the House votes in the affirmative, a trial takes place in the Senate. Impeachment from the House could go one of two directions — whether or not to go to trial in the Senate. The General Assembly has the opportunity to speak on behalf of the people, but not before the governor acts by calling a special session.
The Governor’s July 5, 2022 statement, however, would have us believe that his hands are tied until the auditor’s convictions are confirmed. He can do something today by calling the special session, which is his best option, and incidentally bailing him out by allowing the people, through the General Assembly, to have a say in the process of dismissal.
The governor’s inaction is more than an embarrassment, it’s more than ignoring responsibility and it’s more than passing the buck. This is actually a violation of his duty, as described in the Delaware Constitution, the Oath of Office, and the Delaware Code.
All elected officials, and especially the governor, must be sworn seriously and abide by the laws of Delaware. Ignoring official accountability, as dictated by law, not only demonstrates a lack of official accountability, but may, in itself, be subject to violations.
Article XIV of the Delaware Constitution reads: “I further swear (or affirm) to always place the public interests above any particular or personal interest, … . In doing so, I will support and will always defend the Constitutions of my country and state, so help me God.
The oath of office is clear in stating “to place the public interest above any particular or personal interest”. To many Delawarens, “special or personal interests” sound more like “political interests” when public interests are ignored by the governor’s inaction. Political expediency should never trump the public good, and the governor’s inaction weakens our confidence in our government.
Moreover, the governor’s inaction calls into question public confidence that the executive is acting in the public interest. Inaction on an issue is contrary to the public good and gives the “legitimate impression” that public trust is being violated.
Finally, Title 29 of the Delaware Code: “The General Assembly finds and declares: (1) In our democratic form of government, the conduct of officers and employees of the state shall command the respect and confidence of the people. They must therefore avoid any behavior that violates their public trust or creates a legitimate impression among the public that this trust is violated.
Delawares requires that public interests take precedence over political interests. If the governor continues to sit on his hands, another option is a follow-up investigation by the Attorney General’s Civil Rights and Public Trust Division, dealing with the governor’s failure to do his duty – failure to call a session. Extraordinary of the General Assembly for impeachment.
The Governor’s inaction may require the Civil Rights and Public Trust Division to investigate the matter, as it is clear that the Governor is violating his duty to act in the best interest of Delawares – a breach of trust. public.