Impeachment Of State Auditor Unlikely Before End Of Session

This story was written by Hailey Branson, Oklahoma Daily
Impeachment proceedings against State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan will take longer than expected, the chairman of a special House of Representatives impeachment committee said Tuesday.

"It looks unlikely to me that we'll actually be able to bring the articles of impeachment to the House floor before the end of session," said Rep. Rex Duncan, R-Sand Springs, who heads the eight-person investigative committee, consisting of four Republicans and four Democrats.

On Feb. 19, the House unanimously passed a resolution to begin impeachment proceedings against McMahan, who was indicted by a federal grand jury in January on nine counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, racketeering and bribery in federal court along with his wife Lori, according to Duncan.

The McMahans, who pleaded not guilty, will have a federal trial in the first week of June.

McMahan, a Democrat, stopped going to work at the Capitol in January and turned over his office's operations to Assistant State Auditor Michelle Day, Duncan said.

Though absent from office, McMahan will continue to receive his $109,250 annual salary, according to Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City.

Reynolds, who drafted the original resolution calling for the investigation of McMahan, recently sought an opinion from Attorney General Drew Edmondson regarding McMahan's pay.

Released Monday, the opinion also stated a state-elected official cannot be removed from office by any method other than impeachment.

Reynolds said McMahan was asked to step down by both Edmondson and Gov. Brad Henry the day after McMahan's indictment.

"I personally knew that wasn't in the provision in the constitution [for Edmondson and Henry] to do that," Reynolds said.

He said the Legislature was initially given "bad advice," because they were told to wait for McMahan's federal trials to be finished before acting upon impeachment. He said the Legislature had the right to investigate McMahan beforehand.

"The impeachment has nothing to do with the criminal proceedings," he said.

Reynolds, a member of the investigative committee, said committee members are waiting for attorneys' deliberations on whether or not to impeach McMahan. He said very little is known currently.

Duncan said proceedings will probably last through the summer because "it would be difficult to get all the information from the U.S. attorney without jeopardizing [the federal] case."

If proceedings last into the summer, the Legislature will be called into special session.
© 2008 Oklahoma Daily via U-WIRE