Commentary, News

Lawmaker behind effort to impeach Secretary of State Elaine Marshall resigns

Rep. Millis

Secretary of State Marshall

As readers will recall, one of the most bizarre and outrageous actions of the 2017 General Assembly was the utterly nonsensical attempt to initiate impeachment proceedings against North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall. The effort was driven by a conservative eastern North Carolina lawmaker named Chris Millis. Today, Millis announced that he will resign his seat in the House of Representatives, effective September 15 to spend more time with his family.

Let’s hope the insane impeachment scheme (which was based on Millis’ cockamamie theory that Marshall granted notary licenses to ineligible noncitizens) expires with Millis’ resignation. As we reported in the June 29 edition of the NC Policy Watch Weekly Briefing:

It’s the contention of Millis – a non-lawyer – that Marshall has somehow violated a federal law that proscribes conferring public benefits (a notary license arguably qualifies as such) on certain groups of noncitizens.

Marshall, who is a lawyer, counters that she has done no such thing and argues adamantly that she has only granted licenses to people who meet all legal requirements – including G.S. 10B-5(b) of the North Carolina statutes, which requires all notaries to “reside legally in the United States.” Indeed, she made just such an argument earlier this year to a legislative oversight committee and asked lawmakers for clarifying legislation if they were unsatisfied with her interpretation of the law. No such legislation or any official directive was forthcoming.

Especially given this backdrop, yesterday’s committee vote was a truly remarkable and disturbing step. The act of exploring impeachment proceedings against a duly elected public official ought to be a solemn and momentous step that’s only taken under the most extreme circumstances.

Even if Millis were right in his assessment of the law, to take such action against an elected official based merely on a difference of opinion in applying an array of statutes within his or her purview appears to be unprecedented in state history. It is certainly unprecedented in modern times.

It also establishes what could be a terribly dangerous precedent and, quite possibly, an ongoing constitutional crisis. Think about it: if state lawmakers can initiate impeachment investigations and even commence actual impeachment proceedings over such differences, where does it end?

Just last week, an official audit concluded that state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler was failing to properly enforce state dairy inspection laws. In years past, state Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry has been accused repeatedly of failing to fulfill her sworn duty to enforce state worker protection statutes.

The list goes on and on. There isn’t a governor in modern state history who hasn’t been sued successfully for his or her failure to interpret and/or enforce a particular law or regulation. Indeed, the General Assembly itself has been found repeatedly to have violated federal law and the U.S. Constitution. Should some sort of mass self-impeachment be commenced over that?

Millis made no mention of the impeachment nonsense in his resignation statement and said only that My resignation is solely based on my need to be with my family more often and has nothing to do with any other assumptions that individuals may want to manufacture.”

2 Comments


  1. Brother Doc

    September 1, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Hmmm…Does the press ever follow up by investigating whether the politician actually DOES spend more time with his family after his resignation? I suppose there is a base line from before that would need to be established, but one always wonders whether, say, the politician and his family are now more frequently seen at the beach, Carowinds, Tweetsie Railroad, wherever.

  2. Also An American

    September 2, 2017 at 11:13 am

    It’s the same old saw. An yardbird comes in, gets a small foothold on non-essential committees, feels they are vested then flaps their wings a little too much. Seasoned and experienced representatives watch silently from the side as if to say, we see but we will not acknowledge or counter to avoid embarrassing the flock. More wing flapping occurs and eventually the yardbird is advised to leave the tree for another. Yet they always uses the veil of spending more time with the family as if this is even more noble than public service in the first place. Oh, please! Stop with the false chirping! If family time was so important and necessary in the first place, you would not have ventured into the world of part-time income for full-time public service. Just say I’m leaving, I apologize for the interruption in service to my constituents and for causing the party to spend more money on a special election because of my errant and mis-placed partisan dividing chirping. We’d respect the honesty and might even buy you a cup of coffee at the Dunkin Donuts.

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