Ky. House impeaches Commonwealth’s Attorney
Published 11:10 am Monday, February 13, 2023
The Kentucky House unanimously approved a resolution containing three articles of impeachment against Ronnie Lee Goldy, Jr., the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Bath, Menifee, Montgomery, and Rowan counties, meaning the Senate can now hold a trial on his removal from office.
The process began with the filing of HR 11 on January 5, which directed the House to appoint a committee to investigate any alleged misconduct committed by Goldy based on the Supreme Court’s decision to suspend Goldy from the practice of law.
Committee members met several times in January and early February to review evidence and hear from three commonwealth attorneys who also serve as members of the Commonwealth Prosecutors Advisory Council.
Evidence included roughly 190 pages of messages, illicit in nature, between Goldy and a female criminal defendant. The messages indicated that, in exchange for sexually explicit photographs, Goldy would intervene in ongoing criminal cases.
Testifying before the impeachment committee, three members of the Commonwealth Prosecutors Advisory Council noted that not only is communication of this nature inappropriate, but direct communication between a criminal defendant and a commonwealth’s attorney constitutes a misuse of the power the office holds and a betrayal of public trust.
Due to the committee’s findings, a resolution with articles describing the impeachable offenses was filed as HR 30, and included three articles defining the grounds for impeachment:
–The Kentucky Supreme Court issued a suspension rendering Goldy unable to fulfill his duties in office.
–The nature of Goldy’s communications with the defendant.
–The quid pro quo committed between the defendant and Goldy.
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, explained to reporters on Friday the process going forward, once the impeachment resolution is sent over from the House. “We will receive it, we will look at scheduling it, and working with the House since they act as prosecutors, set it for a trial.”
Stivers said he didn’t know if the matter could be fully resolved by the time the session wraps up March 30. “I have no preconceived ideas of what it will entail, don’t know what the proof will be. I can’t give any estimates what the scenario will be.”Goldy has submitted a letter of resignation to Gov. Andy Beshear effective, Feb. 28, but Stivers says the Senate will proceed, as the letter could be withdrawn.
The last elected official to be impeached in Kentucky was in 1991, when then-Agriculture Commissioner Ward “Butch” Burnette, was impeached after being convicted of theft, but he resigned his office before a Senate trial could take place.
In 1888, State Treasurer James W. “Honest Dick” Tate was impeached and convicted in absentia, after he disappeared after taking $247,000 from the state.