Report recommends Carroll Fisher impeachment

Monday, August 30th 2004, 1:10 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- An Oklahoma House committee has recommended that state Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher[pictured left] be impeached for neglect of duty, corruption in office and incompetency, House Speaker Larry Adair[pictured right] said Tuesday.

Gov. Brad Henry has said Fisher, who has been indicted on embezzlement charges, should resign if the committee made such a recommendation. Fisher has been steadfast in saying he has done nothing warranting impeachment.

Adair called the House back into session on Sept. 9 to consider the committee's recommendation.

If the House votes to impeach Fisher, he would be tried in the Oklahoma Senate, which could order him removed from office.

Fisher, 64, is facing three felony charges. He is accused of embezzling insurance education funds, operating a charity illegally and embezzling a $1,000 campaign contribution.

A week ago, Fisher said he expected to be impeached but would not resign. He said he might have made some "poor judgment calls" but had not committed an impeachable offense.

The grand jury probe that led to the charges against Fisher was overseen by the office of Attorney General Drew Edmondson, a Democrat.

The House committee began its impeachment inquiry last April after a resolution calling for the probe by Rep. John Trebilcock, R-Broken Arrow, was approved on an 84-12 House vote.

Among other things, the resolution pointed to Fisher's acceptance of more than $30,000 worth of furniture and artwork from entities regulated by the Insurance Department and a reprimand he received from the Ethics Commission for violating ethics rules during his 2002 re-election campaign.

Fisher later returned the furniture and artwork after the governor refused to accept the items as gifts to the state.

The Oklahoma Constitution states that any elected state officer is subject to impeachment for willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, habitual drunkenness, incompetency, or any offense involving moral turpitude committed while in office.

The last impeachment vote in the House occurred during the mid-1970s and led to the resignation of Secretary of State John Rogers.

Before that, the last impeachment was of N.B. Johnson in 1965 during the corruption scandal that rocked the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Two Oklahoma governors in the 1920s are among only 15 governors in the nation's history to be impeached.