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Missouri GOPers attempt to impeach Democratic governor

Missouri Republicans are kicking off a long-shot effort Wednesday to impeach the state’s Democratic governor.
Jay Nixon
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon at the Governor's Ham Breakfast at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, Mo., on Aug. 15, 2013.

Missouri Republicans are staging a long-shot effort Wednesday to impeach the state’s Democratic governor in part for allowing same-sex couples to file joint tax returns.

A committee within the Republican-dominated state legislature will hold hearings Wednesday into three formal complaints against Gov. Jay Nixon that argue he deserves to be ousted from office.

In an article of impeachment filed earlier this year, Republican state Rep. Nick Marshall accused the governor of showing “a blatant and complete disregard for the will of the people” by allowing an incremental advancement of gay rights in the state.

Last year, Nixon issued an executive order allowing gay couples -- married in states where same-sex marriage is legal -- the right to file joint tax returns. Nixon at the time said it was “the only appropriate course of action” following the landmark Supreme Court decision that undermined the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and woman. The decision triggered the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service to rule in favor of granting gay couples equal rights when they file for their taxes. 

Another complaint against Nixon accuses him of dragging his feet in calling special elections to replace vacancies in the state’s General Assembly. Nixon has since scheduled the special elections for early August.

A third legislator hit Nixon for insufficiently punishing state officials who handed the over the names of concealed weapons permit holders to the feds. The Missouri Highway Patrol admitted last year to releasing the more than 163,000 names on the database to a Social Security Administration agent investigating fraudulent disability claims. Republican legislators were frustrated Nixon didn't immediately fire the officials involved, and accused government officials of obscuring the facts.

A spokesman for Nixon brushed off the complaints, telling the Associated Press the move was merely a “publicity stunt.”

The Missouri Constitution finds an impeachable offense as “crimes, misconduct, habitual drunkenness, willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetency, or any offense involving moral turpitude or oppression in office.”