Maine Democrats rebuff move to impeach top elections chief

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(The Center Square) — Maine Democrats have rejected a GOP-led proposal to initiate impeachment proceedings against Secretary of State Shenna Bellows for removing former president Donald Trump from the ballot.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on Tuesday voted 80-60 along party lines not to take up a proposal filed by Republican lawmakers to create a special committee to look into allegations of “misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance and other misconduct” by Bellows, a Democrat who oversees the state’s elections.

Last week, Bellows issued a decision brought forth by Maine voters to challenge Trump’s primary petition, determining it invalid.

Bellows, a Democrat, said the former president is not qualified to hold the office of president over his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. She said her decision, prompted by a challenge from a group of Maine voters, was based on a clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which bars anyone who “engaged” in “insurrection or rebellion” from holding elected office.

Trump, the front-runner in a crowded field of GOP candidates, is facing four criminal trials, including one over his alleged role in the Capitol attack. He has denied any wrongdoing and appealed Bellow’s decision to disqualify him from the primary ballot in state Superior Court. He’s also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a ruling on Trump’s eligibility.

During the debate on the impeachment resolution, Republicans argued that Bellows’ was biased because she supported Biden’s 2020 electoral win and said her decision to bar Trump from the ballot divides an electorate that’s already far apart.

“I find the Secretary of State guilty of voter suppression,” state Rep. Jim Thorne, R-Carmel, said in remarks. “I also find her guilty of suppression of free speech.”

But Democrats countered that GOP lawmakers are trying to punish Bellows for doing her job as the state’s top election official.

“This resolution is before us not because she did anything wrong, but because some of us don’t like her decision,” state Rep. Adam Lee, D-Auburn, said in remarks.

Following her ruling on Trump’s eligibility, Bellows’ staff have reportedly been targeted with threats of violence, including a ‘swatting’ incident that was called into her Manchester home.

“I was heartened that a majority in the Legislature recognized that this order was not the appropriate process,” Bellows told reporters following Tuesday’s vote. “That one should not remove an elected official for doing their job and following the constitution.”

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