- Seven conservative lawmakers in New Hampshire have called for the House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether Governor Chris Sununu, a Republican, can be impeached.
- Sununu has ruled by executive order during the pandemic, and his recent statewide mask mandate violates constitutional rights, the resolution’s backers said.
- But the vast majority of New Hampshire residents approve of the way Sununu handled the pandemic. The state has one of the country’s lowest infection rates.
- The state’s GOP chair and vice-chair called the investigation request “foolish.”
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Seven conservative lawmakers in New Hampshire have called for an investigation into whether the state’s GOP governor Chris Sununu can be impeached for ruling by executive order during the pandemic.
This news comes just days after the governor implemented a mask mandate requiring people to wear a face covering in public places, which led to an anti-mask demonstration outside his home in Newfields on Sunday.
According to a filing by the New Hampshire General Court, Andrew Prout, a Republican member of the state’s House of Representatives, was the prime sponsor of the request, titled “authorizing and directing the house judiciary committee to investigate whether cause exists for the impeachment of Governor Christopher T. Sununu.”
“The mask mandate was the last straw,” Prout told NHJournal. “Governor Sununu has a newly-elected GOP legislature he should be working with, but instead he continues to rule by executive order without any legislative consultation.”
The effort has been backed by four other incumbent state representatives and two representatives-elect.
The representatives will call for the House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether there is evidence to impeach Sununu during next year’s legislative session, but the House has to vote in favor of the inquiry for it to be launched.
If it does find grounds for impeachment, the motion would have to be approved by both the House and the Senate.
But the GOP has a majority in the House, and the New Hampshire governor is popular among both party members and other political groups. Sununu won re-election to his third term with almost two-thirds of the votes.
The state has one of the lowest infection rates in the country.
The state’s GOP Chair Steve Stepanek and Vice-Chair Pamela Tucker released a statement “condemning State Representatives’ foolish investigation request.”
The state “overwhelmingly approves” of Sununu’s handling of the pandemic, Stepanek and Tucker said.
“Talk of impeachment is a severe obfuscation of the reasons Granite Staters elected Republicans on November 3 and these House members seeking headlines will look foolish when this effort falls flat before it even gets off the ground,” they added.
A conservative New Hampshire lawmaker similarly told Fox News that there is little wider support for the impeachment call.
On November 19, Sununu issued a mask mandate by executive order that requires state residents to wear a mask or face covering in public spaces, both indoors and outdoors, when they cannot stay at least six foot away from other people.
“This is not a decision that came lightly,” Sununu said. Rising hospitalization rates and increased community transmission pushed him to introduce the mandate, he said.
Prior to that, the state had heavily encouraged mask wearing, but it wasn’t compulsory.
The mandate, which came into effect Friday, isn’t as strict as some implemented in other states. Staff and pupils, for examples, are exempt while on site in schools.
After Sununu issued the mandate, protesters staged an anti-mask demonstration outside his home in Newfields on Sunday. At least 100 people took part in the protest, chanting phrases such as “Breathe free or die” and “We will not comply.”
—Paul Steinhauser (@steinhauserNH1) November 22, 2020
“I would say that the mask mandate was the final straw,” Representative Michael Sylvia, a Republican and one of the backers of the impeachment resolution, told the Concord Monitor. “That is another very clear violation of our rights that we are guaranteed under our Constitution.”
Over the course of New Hampshire’s history, the House of Representatives has only brought about two impeachments. Both were against Supreme Court Justices.
Sununu and Prout did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
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