House Democrats urge governor to remove Auditor Kathy McGuiness; Senate to launch removal process

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Legislative Hall in Dover.

The Delaware House Democratic Caucus sent a letter to Gov. John Carney Friday “supporting and encouraging him to exercise his constitutional obligation to remove State Auditor Kathy McGuiness from office once her verdict is entered by the Superior Court,” a release stated.

On the same day, Senate leaders announced that proceedings to remove McGuiness would begin later this month. A resolution calling for removal was introduced Thursday.

State Sens. David Sokola, D-Newark, Bryan Townsend, D-Newark, Bear, and Elizabeth Lockman, D-Wilmington, issued the following:

“In the two weeks since a Kent County jury found the State Auditor guilty of multiple crimes, including official misconduct, Auditor McGuiness has ignored repeated calls for her resignation. Most Delawareans understand that an elected official who abuses their power and violates the law should not be employed at that taxpayer-funded job any longer. The Auditor’s refusal to place the public’s interest ahead of her own compels the Delaware State Senate to initiate removal proceedings as authorized by Article III, Section 13 of (the) Delaware Constitution. A Senate vote is planned for 2 p.m. on Monday, July 25.”

According to the House release, On July 1, Kent County Superior Court jury found the state auditor guilty of three misdemeanor charges involving her actions in office. Four days later, Carney issued a statement in which he discussed his powers under Article XV, Section 6 of the Delaware Constitution, which states: “The Governor shall remove from office any public officer convicted of misbehavior in office or of any infamous crime.”

McGuiness was cleared of two felony charges.

In their letter to the governor, House Democrats supported the contention that he is required to remove the auditor from office once the Superior Court has entered her guilty verdict.

McGuiness has remained defiant after the conviction and, along with her attorney, vowed to overturn the conviction. A Democrat and a Republican are currently seeking the post, with McGuiness continuing to seek re-election in this year’s cycle.

“The crimes the State Auditor has been found guilty of meet the Constitutional criteria of ‘misbehavior in office,’ and that as a result, you are obligated to remove her from office upon entry of a judgment of conviction by the Superior Court,” the letter stated.

The letter is signed by members of the House Democratic Caucus expressing support for the governor in carrying out his constitutional obligation.

The Delaware Constitution lays out the clearest, quickest and most direct path to removing a public official: the governor is required to remove a public official who has been convicted of ‘misbehavior in office,’ ” said House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst. “With the stroke of a pen, the governor can fulfill his constitutional obligation and remove the state auditor from office. The governor has publicly stated that he believes the auditor cannot continue to serve in her position and that he is waiting for the Superior Court to enter the verdict before fulfilling his duty.”

Among those House members signing the letter was House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, a long-time political ally of McGuiness. Both reside in the Rehoboth Beach area.

Carney is known for his cautious approach in reaching difficult decisions but did decide to veto a bill, a popular bill among Democrats that would end all penalties for possession of marijuana.

Senators and one House members see the removal process as an effective option.

“The Constitution prescribes three ways an elected official can be removed from office. The first is the governor alone upon conviction. The second is the GA alone through impeachment. The third is the GA petitioning the governor to remove someone. That last one is the process we are initiating,” Senate spokesman Scott Goss stated in an email message.”Both chambers passing SCR 128, which was introduced last night, would give the Auditor notice that the GA plans to hold a hearing in a joint session to consider petitioning the governor for her removal. It would permit the President Pro Tempore and the Speaker to set a date for that hearing and provide the Auditor with notice that a hearing was being scheduled. If the resolution passes both chambers, we would then need to pass rules for the hearing, hold the hearing and then vote on a petition, which would have to be approved by 2/3 of both chambers.”

See and download, the Senate resolution and House letter below: