Two lawmakers are urging the state House to begin impeachment proceedings quickly against indicted state Auditor Troy Kelley. But it looks unlikely.
OLYMPIA — The idea to bring impeachment proceedings quickly against indicted state Auditor Troy Kelley ended before it began.
A few minutes before a pair of GOP state representatives publicly presented their resolution to begin impeachment proceedings against Kelley — who has pleaded not guilty to 10 federal charges of tax evasion and lying to investigators — state House leaders threw cold water on the idea.
“The Troy Kelley issue is working its way through the legal system,” read the statement by House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle. “House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen and I agree that now is not the time to consider impeachment.”
Nevertheless, Republican Reps. Drew MacEwen, of Union, and Drew Stokesbary, of Auburn, stood before the media in a legislative hearing room Tuesday afternoon and made their case for impeachment.
The resolution would call for a committee composed of three Democrats and three Republicans to draft articles of impeachment. While the committee can consider other charges, it would focus on the issue of Kelley taking a leave of absence and delegating his authority to an Auditor’s Office employee.
Stokesbary said he believes those actions constitute malfeasance, a threshold under which an elected official could be removed from office.
While most statewide elected officials and many lawmakers have called for the auditor’s resignation, Kelley has resisted and said he intends to fight to clear his name. On Monday, a judge set his trial date for Jan. 19, 2016.
While MacEwen praised that employee, Jan Jutte, who took over Kelley’s responsibilities, “I just don’t think we can stand by and have a nonelected official running an elected office,” he said.
Mark Firmani, Kelley’s personal spokesman, said he had just received a copy of the resolution, but that Kelley was unlikely to comment on it.
Meanwhile, lawmakers are about halfway through a special session as they struggle to agree on a 2015-17 operating budget for the state. Gov. Jay Inslee and Chopp have both said that work on the budget must be the priority.