Pennsylvania Republicans Begin Doomed Effort to Impeach Gov. Wolf

In this March 12, 2020, file photo, Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania speaks at a news conference at Pennsylvania Emergency Management Headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa. Wolf is struggling to fight against a Republican revolt over his stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns. Egged on by state GOP lawmakers, counties have threatened to defy his orders while at least a few business owners have reopened their doors despite his warnings. (AP Photo/Marc Levy, File)

By Abbie Synan

June 17, 2020

“This is just the latest example of the House Republicans wasting time instead of helping to protect Pennsylvanians during this public health crisis.”  

Butler County state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe unveiled articles of impeachment against Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday, citing issues with the governor’s management of the COVID-19 crisis in the Commonwealth. 

“While these are certainly unprecedented and chaotic times, Gov. Tom Wolf must be held accountable for his actions that have harmed so many of our citizens and violated so many of our rights,” Metcalfe, a Republican, explained in a statement.

Out of the nearly 78,000 cases in the Commonwealth, Metcalfe’s Butler County has had 232 confirmed cases. Metcalfe and 24 fellow Republicans that co-signed his resolution argue that Wolf and Health Secretary Rachel Levine are responsible for the economic devastation the state has experienced because of their efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

“We cannot and should not dismiss the social and economic impacts of more than 2 million citizens being forced to file for unemployment; countless families unable to put food on their tables; infringements on free speech, peaceful assembly and private property rights; increasing suicide rates; and the growing list of job-creating businesses that will never recover from the governor’s arbitrary, non-transparent and extreme stay-at-home and business shutdown orders,” Metcalfe said in his statement.

Wolf’s spokesperson Lindsay Kensinger responded to the resolution by stating: “This is just the latest example of the House Republicans wasting time instead of helping to protect Pennsylvanians during this public health crisis.”     

The five articles of impeachment state that Gov. Wolf has violated the 4th, 5th, and 14th amendment rights of Pennsylvanians. 

“Governor Wolf’s orders violate the right of citizens of this commonwealth to equal protection under the law guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States,” the resolution reads. “Governor Wolf’s orders violate the prohibition against unlawful seizures and the right not to be deprived of property without due process of law or just compensation under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the constitution of the United States.”

The articles also accuse Wolf of failing to better manage the Department of Labor & Industry and the Office of Unemployment and its ability to handle an unprecedented number of unemployment benefit requests once businesses began closing, withholding critical information about COVID-19, as well as failing to protect residents of long-term care facilities across the state.        

Metcalfe characterized Wolf’s approach to handling the public health crisis—which has thus far killed more than 6,319 people—as “Orwellian overreach.” He also said Pennsylvanians “deserve and demand far better than a petulant socialist dictator.” 

As the Pennsylvania Capital-Star reports, the representative is known for rocking the boat in the state legislature. Metcalfe has in the past threatened articles of impeachment against former Attorney General Kathleen Kane as well as Mayor Bill Peduto.

“Metcalfe is also known for inviting white nationalists and climate change skeptics to testify in committee hearings, blocking Pennsylvania’s first openly gay lawmaker from making a speech celebrating same-sex marriage equality in 2013, and hardball legislative tactics to block Democratic proposals from passing,” writes John L. Micek, the publication’s editor-in-chief.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Bud Cook (R-19) said he is “proud” to be co-sponsoring the articles, and Rep. Jonathan Fritz told his Facebook followers that “enough is enough” and that Gov. Wolf has “violated the constitutionally affirmed rights of our citizens.”

Bill Patton, the Democratic House spokesperson, told PennLive: “The governor’s doing the job he was elected to do and the last thing the state needs right now is a circus sideshow. House Democrats will give this political stunt no more attention than it deserves”.

While these Republican lawmakers believe Gov. Wolf has mismanaged the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent Ipsos Poll has shown that 70% of respondents approve of the way the governor has handled the pandemic.  

Pennsylvania has also seen a steady decrease in COVID-19 cases since the height of the state’s pandemic in early April, and this week health officials have documented some of the lowest reported cases within a 24-hour time period since March. Out of the 67 counties in the state, 46 are already in the “green phase” of the tiered reopening of the state. 

RELATED: Pennsylvania Records 3rd Straight Day of Less Than 400 COVID Cases

Meanwhile, many other states have seen an uptick in cases as restrictions across the country have eased.    

The introduction of impeachment articles adds to the continued conflict that has transpired over the last few weeks between the Republican-controlled legislature and the Democratic governor. The House and Senate on June 9 voted to approve a resolution to end Gov. Wolf’s emergency order. The resolution has been rejected by the governor, and the State Supreme Court was called to weigh in on the matter.

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CATEGORIES: POLITICS

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