- The Washington Times - Monday, August 22, 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s House Democrats are considering impeachment proceedings against Gov. Bob Taft, a Republican who pleaded no contest last week to four ethics violations.

House Minority Leader Chris Redfern said yesterday that Democrats had made no decision about whether to seek Mr. 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 tomorrow to discuss a response.

“Impeachment is such a serious thing, and it’s not something to be careless about,” Mr. Redfern said. “But we would all do well, as members of the House, to understand what the process is.”

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, a trial would be held in the Senate.

Senate President Bill Harris said yesterday 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 Mr. Harris, a Republican. “I think he’ll continue to do his best and continue to work hard.”

Mr. Redfern said House Democrats will consider alternatives, including asking Mr. Taft to resign.

Mr. 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.

The governor’s press secretary, Mark Rickel, did not return calls seeking comment yesterday.

The troubles surrounding the great-grandson of former President William Howard Taft are the latest blow to the Republicans in the state that clinched President Bush’s re-election.

A scandal that began with a prominent Republican contributor’s investment of state money in rare coins has ballooned to include 15 state and federal agencies investigating accusations of risky investments and illegal campaign contributions to Mr. Bush.

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