Government & Politics
3:16 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

In Harrisburg, Impeachment Hearing Begins With A Walk-Out

A state House committee hearing to consider the impeachment of Attorney General Kathleen Kane was punctuated with a rare walkout by Democratic lawmakers.

Democrats made two attempts to put the kibosh on the meeting held by the House State Government Committee. The second adjournment effort came from Democratic Representative Mike O’Brien of Philadelphia. A terse exchange with Chairman Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) followed. Metcalfe asked security to show O’Brien the door.

“Please remove Rep. O’Brien from this hearing,” said Metcalfe.

“I would like to make a motion to adjourn,” O’Brien said, speaking over Metcalfe.

“You are not recognized,” Metcalfe continued. “The microphone is not on for you to be recognized.” (The microphone was on.)

“That’s it. We’re out of here,” O’Brien said, as his Democratic colleagues rose from their seats. “Have your kangaroo court, pal.”

Metcalfe has been pushing for Kane’s impeachment since last year. He says she’s shirked the duties of her office by – among other things -- declining to defend the state’s same-sex marriage ban, unilaterally closing a loophole used by some to obtain a concealed carry gun permit, and dropping an investigation that caught public officials, on tape, accepting money from an undercover informant.

“I have a dispute with her regarding the constitution and the law. I think she’s in violation of both,” Metcalfe said, after Democrats had left the hearing. “I think she should be removed from the office of the attorney general, since she doesn’t want to fulfill the duties of that office. The spectacle the minority chair tried to make with his members was sort of anticipated.”

Democrats say Metcalfe isn’t following proper impeachment procedure. House Minority Leader Frank Dermody led the 1994 House investigation into charges against state Supreme Court Justice Rolf Larsen, which led to the judge’s impeachment. Dermody was lead prosecutor in Larsen’s trial before the state Senate. He said the hearing to consider Kane’s impeachment is a “political witch-hunt.”

“Somebody would have to file an impeachment resolution with the House,” said Dermody. “That would be referred to the Judiciary Committee, then the Judiciary Committee would have to have an investigation to see whether there’s any merit to it, and then it would go to the full House for a vote. So we’re light years away from any of that.”

GOP House Spokesman Steve Miskin said Metcalfe has not filed a petition for impeachment with the House Speaker.

Outside the hearing room, O’Brien accused Metcalfe of ignoring established protocol.

“If we don't have rules, it becomes the Tower of Babylon,” O’Brien said, referring to the Bible story of people unable to communicate with one another.