December 22, 2023 9:00am

Poll members strongly disapprove of Biden impeachment inquiry pushed by Kentucky congressmen

But they approve of a court ruling that the new charter school funding law is unconstitutional, as well as proposed Republican legislation on guns.

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Lexington, KY Correspondent
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Lexington Power Poll members overwhelmingly disapprove of the impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden, which has been spearheaded by Rep. James Comer and approved by all of Kentucky’s other House Republicans, including Rep. Andy Barr of Lexington.

Also this month, poll members strongly approve of a Franklin Circuit Court decision striking down the General Assembly’s charter school funding law. They also approve of legislation proposed by a Republican state senator that could temporarily take away guns from people who have shown signs that they might be a risk to themselves or others.

The first question this month involved the party-line vote in the House of Representatives recently to start an impeachment inquiry against Biden related to the business activities of his son, Hunter, who has been charged with federal tax and firearms crimes.

The inquiry grew out of several months of investigations and hearings by the House Oversight Committee chaired by Comer, whose congressional district includes Frankfort. Comer has made many allegations, both in committee hearings and frequent media interviews, but has so far produced no evidence of any illegal activity by the president.

Democrats have accused Republicans of conducting these hearings and this impeachment inquiry as payback for former President Donald Trump’s two impeachments, as well as to distract from Trump’s pending trials on 91 felony counts in Washington, D.C., Florida and Georgia and a civil fraud trial in New York.

Asked if they agree with Comer and Barr — and every other House Republican — that the Biden impeachment inquiry is warranted, 82 percent of Lexington Power Poll members (171 people) said “no” while 13 percent (27 people) said “yes.” Ten people (5 percent) had no opinion.

“I’m afraid we’re in the age where the party who doesn’t control the White House will find bogus reasons to start an impeachment circus,” said Grayson Vandegrift, a former mayor of Midway. “While I think Trump’s impeachment by the House for the Jan. 6 insurrection was warranted, the first one was probably not, despite the cringeworthy nature of Trump’s phone call to Zelensky. It’s the nature of our current leaders in Washington to go tit-for-tat, and while you could argue one side is more at fault for our current divisions, it’s on both sides to turn the temperature down. Someone has to be the first adult in the room for others to follow.”

The second question this month was about a ruling by Judge Phillip Shepherd of Franklin Circuit Court that legislation passed by the Republican-dominated General Assembly last year setting up a public funding mechanism for charter schools is unconstitutional.

Kentucky’s constitution prohibits public school funds from being spent on anything but public schools. It also specifically prohibits public funds from being spent on church, sectarian or denominational schools. Republicans have discussed a possible constitutional amendment to change that, which would have to be approved by the General Assembly and voters in a statewide referendum.

Shepherd ruled that there “is no way to stretch the definition of ‘common schools’ so broadly that it would include such privately owned and operated schools that are exempt from the statutes and administrative regulations governing public school education.”

Asked if they agreed with Shepherd’s decision, 80 percent of Power Poll members (167 people) said “yes” while 13 percent (27 people) said “no.” Seven percent (14 people) had no opinion.

“Charter schools are simply private schools that want to take money from taxpayers to pay for private education for the children of the wealthy class and leave the children of the poor and working classes behind,” said Dr. Anthony Everett, president and CEO of the Centre for Prophetic Activism. “While not perfect, our public schools system is the best way for all children to succeed. Monies used for charter schools would add a deficit to public school students. When we invest that money back into public education, things like universal Pre-K, we invest into a better future for everyone!”

Our final question this month was about legislation state Sen. Whitney Westerfield, a Republican from Christian County, plans to introduce in the General Assembly next month called the Crisis Aversion and Rights Retention Orders law. The bill lays out a legal process in which guns could be temporarily taken away from people whose behavior has indicated they might pose a danger to themselves or others.

Westerfield said his bill will be “meaningfully different in a couple of ways” from so-called “red flag” laws, which have been controversial among conservatives. “Timelines are shorter … The burden of proof is going to be higher,” he said. But he has so far not released the language of the bill. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have some form of this kind of law.

Power Poll members approve of Westerfield’s ideas for this legislation by a margin of 94 percent (195 people) to 5 percent (10 people). Three poll members had no opinion.

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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