Recall is not Impeachment
"You don't remove an officeholder ...simply because you disagree with his...official acts. Instead, you do it...only in response to...misconduct, what the Constitution calls 'treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.' " Richard Foster in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (MJS) Crossroads section, Feb. 5, 2012.
Foster, a former member of the MJS editorial board, wrote this in a column opposing the recall of Gov. Scott Walker. But Foster has conflated the concepts of recall and impeachment, which are totally different paths to removing a public official.
Impeachment of state officials is authorized by Article VII, Section 1, of the Wisconsin Constitution for "corrupt conduct in office, or for crimes and misdemeanors." Impeachment actions are initiated by the Assembly, and conviction requires a two-thirds vote in the State Senate. (Judges and Supreme Court justices may also be removed by "address," as provided in Section 13 of this Article.)
Article XIII, Section 12, says that "The qualified electors of the state.....may petition for the recall of any incumbent elective officer after the first year of the term for which the incumbent was elected......no law shall be enacted to hamper, restrict or impair the right of recall."
Although this Section includes eight paragraphs with detailed rules about the recall procedure (number of signatures required, timetable of the primary and general election, etc.) there is no mention whatsoever of misconduct in office, crimes or misdemeanors, which are grounds for impeachment. Mr Foster may oppose all recalls, or support only those warranted by official misconduct, but the recall provision of the Wisconsin Constitution says nothing of the kind; the voters can recall any elected official with whom they are no longer satisfied. Contrary to Foster's contention cited above, disagreement with official acts is a perfectly solid justification for recall, but not for impeachment. Impeachment requires a trial and conviction, recall requires a special election. Apples and oranges!
Recalls were uncommon in Wisconsin before the Milwaukee County Board and County Executive Tom Ament implemented a generous pension plan which enabled retirees to walk away with millions of dollars. As a result, a conservative group entitled Citizens for Responsible Government (CRG) initiated a recall of Ament in 2002. State Rep. Scott Walker (R, Wauwatosa) and radio commentator Charles Sykes were among the leaders of the movement, which easily garnered far more than the number of signatures required. Ament resigned, and Scott Walker was elected to succeed him.
It would be the mother of all ironies if Walker, whose rise to political prominence was due to one recall movement, were to lose his present office to another one.
Gerald S Glazer