A conservative western Pennsylvania lawmaker, joined by a Lancaster County Republican and 23 other legislators filed articles of impeachment on Tuesday against Governor Tom Wolf.
Reps. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler County), David Zimmerman (R., East Earl) and other Republicans introduced five articles of impeachment to remove Wolf from office for how he and his administration dealt with the coronavirus pandemic.
The impeachment effort is the most extreme action by members of the General Assembly to take action against Wolf for his COVID-19 response, which House Republicans say resulted in an economic fallout in the state and constitute “an impeachable offense warranting removal from office,” according to Metcalfe’s resolution.
The five articles allege: Wolf did not have the authority to issue stay-at-home orders and business closures “that deprived citizens of this Commonwealth of their most basic rights;” Wolf failed to properly staff the Department of Labor and Industry for the historic unemployment rate in the state; Wolf’s administration failed nursing home residents by initially urging nursing homes to readmit patients who tested positive for the virus; and that Wolf “actively withheld” information from the public and General Assembly by refusing to release business waiver records.
‘Very difficult decisions’
Wolf made “very difficult decisions” to address the pandemic that were necessary to save lives, his spokeswoman Lyndsay Kensinger said in a statement. Citing recent reports from Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus data and an Associated Press analysis, Kensinger said Pennsylvania has sustained a steady decline in cases since its peak and has avoided case increases that more than half the states in the U.S. are experiencing as they reopen.
“In the last weeks, House Republicans have continued their efforts to divide the commonwealth and score cheap political points instead of taking the challenge before them seriously,” Kensinger added. “This is just the latest example of the House Republicans wasting time instead of helping to protect Pennsylvanians during this public health crisis.”
Zimmerman did not respond to requests for comment.
“Wolf’s unconstitutional dictates and Orwellian overreach into our lives and the marketplace has caused immeasurable harm and hardship for far more Pennsylvanians than the virus,” Metcalfe said in a news release on Tuesday.
Future for the resolution
The representatives who co-sponsored the articles of impeachment have been outspoken to reopen the state’s economy, and some led the charge to rescind Wolf’s emergency declaration, like Rep. Russ Diamond (R., Lebanon). Diamond’s resolution, HR 836, was passed by the Senate last week and is now up for a court battle.
Mike Straub, spokesman for House Majority Leader and acting Speaker Bryan Cutler (R., Peach Bottom), said the resolution will be referred to the proper committee once it is filed officially, but declined to comment on the articles of impeachment.
Rep. Rob Kauffman (R., Franklin), who signed the letter, also chairs the judiciary committee, a potential committee it could be assigned to.
Metcalfe has previously introduced legislation to impeach officials, as recently as 2019 when he tried to impeach Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto for the city’s ban on assault rifles.
Bill Patton, a spokesman for House Democrats said in an email in response to the articles of impeachment “the last thing the state needs right now is a circus sideshow.”
“House Democrats will give this political stunt no more attention that it deserves,” Patton added.