OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House impeached the state's insurance commissioner Thursday for neglect, corruption and incompetence, sending him to trial in the state Senate to determine whether he should be removed from office.
Carroll Fisher (search), who also faces felony embezzlement charges, became the first state official to be impeached in nearly three decades.
The lawmakers overwhelmingly approved five articles of impeachment (search) recommended last week by a special investigative committee.
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Fisher, 64, also faces two criminal trials on felony charges including embezzling money from the state Insurance Department's continuing education fund for insurance agents and from his own campaign fund.
Fisher, who watched the proceedings from a House balcony, repeated his vow not to leave office voluntarily.
"I will not surrender," he said. "If I did that, I would give up my right to defend myself. I'm prepared."
Irven Box, Fisher's attorney, said before the vote that if Fisher was impeached, he will file legal action to delay the Senate trial. Box argues it is unfair for his client to be tried in the Senate while criminal proceedings are pending against him on the same issues in district court.
Gov. Brad Henry (search) and others have called on Fisher to resign to save the state money and an ordeal that could lead to his ouster.
Fisher, who was re-elected to his second four-year term in 2002, said he did not care how long his legal fight takes and he should not be blamed for the cost to taxpayers. "If they lose, they will have to pay my legal fees," he said Wednesday. "That is the rule and I intend for them to lose."
The last impeachment vote in the House occurred in 1975, when lawmakers voted to oust Secretary of State John Rogers, who resigned in the face of a trial in the Senate.