The N.C. House is unlikely to act on a request to investigate Secretary of State Elaine Marshall before this legislative session ends, the legislator who is pursuing potential impeachment proceedings against her said Thursday evening.
But Rep. Chris Millis, a Republican from Hampstead, said his efforts will continue during the interim between legislative sessions, along with an independent probe that he has alluded to.
“The process is moving forward,” Millis said in an email. “With the fast approaching adjournment and the ardent desire to ensure a transparent, methodical and fair process the intention to review this matter will most certainly progress in the interim.
“In addition, to further guarantee this matter maintains absolute integrity of the highest veracity, an impartial outside review of the evidence will be moving concurrently.”
House Speaker Tim Moore said the House would wait for “a deliberate process” to take place. “Outside counsel, someone who is a prosecutor in the state” is going to look at it, Moore said.
In a House Rules Committee meeting on Wednesday, Millis had said an investigation by an outside agency could be proceeding, without divulging what that agency might be.
Millis brought to the committee a resolution asking the full House to vote on whether to form an investigative panel to determine whether Marshall had violated any laws. The committee could exonerate Marshal, or refer its findings to the Senate for prosecution.
Millis, a civil engineer and third-term legislator, earlier this year accused Marshall of improperly commissioning unauthorized noncitizens as notaries public. He contends that constitutes conferring an improper public benefit.
Marshall and her top deputies dispute that and say Republicans in the House are playing politics. The officials say they are following federal guidelines. Further, they say they use one of three federal forms to verify if someone is eligible to be a notary: permanent residency cards, employee authorization forms and visas. They do not issue the commissions based on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival temporary protection cards given to people brought to the country illegally as children.
The House Rules Committee approved the resolution along party lines on Wednesday, and sent it to the full House to be filed as a bill and introduced. On Thursday morning, Moore referred the bill back to the rules committee.
It could be removed from the committee and considered at any time, but lawmakers in both chambers worked long hours this week to move scores of bills before their target adjournment date of this weekend.
Millis’ efforts drew quick criticism from General Assembly Democrats and Wayne Goodwin, chairman of the N.C. Democratic Party, issued a statement Wednesday night:
“Today was a shameful and disgraceful day for North Carolina. Republican legislators sunk to a new low when they levied unwarranted and serious character attacks against North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall. Secretary Marshall is a stalwart example of exactly who we need in elected office – a selfless public servant of high ethical standards and dedication to the law.”
Several House Democrats on Thursday wore lapel stickers saying, "I Stand with Elaine."
Staff writer Lynn Bonner contributed.