COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio's House Democrats are considering impeachment proceedings against Republican Gov. Bob Taft (search), who pleaded no contest last week to four ethics violations.
House Minority Leader Chris Redfern (search) said Sunday that Democrats had made no decision yet about whether to seek Taft's ouster — impeachment would be difficult if not impossible with Republicans controlling both houses of the Legislature.
But he said they had asked the Legislature's legal research arm to outline the impeachment process so they understand it when they meet Tuesday to discuss a response.
"Impeachment is such a serious thing, and it's not something to be careless about," Redfern said. "But we would all do well as members of the House to understand what the process is."
The House Democrats will also consider other alternatives, including asking Taft to resign, Redfern said.
Governor's press secretary Mark Rickel did not immediately return calls seeking comment Sunday.
Taft issued a public apology after entering his plea last week, but he said he would not step down as governor. He was fined $4,000 for failing to report golf outings and other gifts.
An article of impeachment would have to be approved by a majority of the 99-member House, something the Democrats — who hold 39 seats — couldn't achieve without the votes of at least 11 Republicans. If passed, an impeachment trial would be held in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Senate President Bill Harris said Sunday that talk of impeachment is unwarranted.
"Unless some other types of charges develop, I don't think there will be an attempt to impeach the governor," said Harris, a Republican. "I think he'll continue to do his best and continue to work hard."
The troubles surrounding Taft, the great-grandson of President William Howard Taft, are the latest blow to the GOP in the Republican-controlled state that won President Bush re-election.
A scandal that began with a prominent GOP contributor's investment of state money in rare coins has ballooned to include 15 state and federal agencies investigating allegations of risky investments and illegal campaign contributions to Bush.