State solons join revolt Letter signed by 70 Vt. legislators
By DANIEL BARLOW Southern Vermont Bureau | April 21,2006
NEWFANE — Nearly 70 state legislators have signed on a letter penned by a Windham County representative calling on the U.S. Congress to begin investigations and possibly impeachment proceedings against President Bush.
The letter written by Rep. Richard Marek, D-Newfane, asks that hearings be held on issues such as Bush's domestic surveillance program and the Iraq war to determine if censure or "setting in motion the constitutional process for possible removal from office" are necessary.
Fifty-six members of the Vermont House and 13 members of the Senate have signed onto Marek's letter, which will be sent to Vermont's congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. A majority of the Democratic and Progressive caucuses have signed on, although no Republicans have endorsed it.
"Vermonters from across the state have expressed concerns with the president's actions and have displayed that through resolutions, meetings and petitions," Marek said.
"I thought it was important to put our voices down as supporting an investigation and possible censure and impeachment," he said.
Some towns have called directly for Bush's impeachment, while Marek's letter alludes to that outcome, the exact word is never used. He said he tempered the language because he believed the constitutional process, which begins with hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives, should be followed to ensure "due process."
In addition to questioning the justification of the National Security Agency's wiretap program and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Marek's letter also questions the legality of the "enemy combatant" label, which strips detainees of many of their judicial rights.
Rep. Alice Emmons, D-Springfield, said she signed the letter because Bush's policies need to be investigated.
"I feel as an American that what is happening is not right," Emmons said. "This administration needs to be investigated fairly and openly because what has happened has raised many questions."
Rep. Daryl Pillsbury, I-Brattleboro, said he signed the letter because "the president is not bringing this country down the right path." But he said he hoped for more aggressive language, including the use of the word "impeachment."
"We need to do something and I hope more and more communities take this issue up," he said. "If we keep it up, maybe the right people will finally listen."
Meanwhile, Rep. David Zuckerman, P-Burlington, is circulating a resolution that would trigger an obscure parliamentary procedure created by Thomas Jefferson allowing a state legislature to call on the U.S. House to begin impeachment hearings.
Zuckerman, who is expected to formally introduce the resolution early next week, said he signed onto Marek's letter, but wanted to keep open the option of triggering an investigation on the state level if the Democrat's effort fell on deaf ears in Washington, D.C.
"The ramifications of this administration are having an effect on our state budget and citizens," Zuckerman said.
Newfane, the Windham County town Marek represents, was the first to call for Bush's impeachment via a warned article at town meeting in March. Since then, six other towns have followed suit and earlier this month Democratic Party leaders signed onto a resolution supporting impeachment.
Dan DeWalt, a Newfane Selectman who proposed the first impeachment question, said he still is receiving inquires from residents of other states asking how they also can call for Bush's impeachment.
In Vermont, residents of Westminster and Middlebury may also organize town votes on the matter, he said. The impeachment movement has snowballed since Newfane residents voted 121 to 29 by paper ballot to remove Bush from office on March 6.
"After I put the first resolution out there, other towns really grabbed onto the idea," he said. "It's a good gesture to show that we will not acquiesce to the president's power grabs."
The original copies of the resolutions endorsed by the seven Vermont towns will be delivered to the U.S. Congress by Ellen Tenney, a Saxtons River resident who spearheaded the impeachment effort in Rockingham, when she travels to Washington on May 1.
Tenney said she will give the originals to the clerk of the U.S. House, who is then expected to pass them along to Republican House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois.
"I'm honored to do this," she said. "I'm taking the will of the people of Vermont to someone in Washington that hopefully can do something."
Jeff Weaver, a spokesman for Rep. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., said the congressman supports any effort to investigate the alleged misdeeds of the Bush administration, but doubts any effort could be successful under Republican control of the House and Senate.
"As long as the Republicans control Congress, there won't be any meaningful oversight," he said.
Contact Daniel Barlow at email@example.com.