NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall may be about to be investigated by a Select House Committee with an eye toward impeachment proceedings. Rep. Chris Millis (R-Pender) introduced a resolution in the House Rules Committee Wednesday, H 925, “Creation of House Select Investigatory Committee,” that would establish a Select Committee to investigate Marshall’s action regarding the commissioning of illegals as notaries public.
If found to be warranted, the Select Committee would draft and/or recommend articles of impeachment to be introduced and considered by the entire House.
Millis told the committee, “A situation of serious concern arose after a legislative records request, early this year, revealed that the secretary of state has been illegally commissioning unqualified aliens – persons who are non-citizens without permanent residence status – as notaries throughout North Carolina. This action is a violation of both state and federal law.”
Millis continued, “There is clear and convincing evidence of this wrongful action by the secretary. The evidence shows that Secretary Marshall has ignored the rule of law, usurped legislative authority, and engaged in conduct that can only undermine the public trust in government and cast doubt on the fraud deterrent role of the ministerial office of a notary public.”
Millis also said, “The secretary’s illegal actions, her unwillingness to publicly acknowledged the truth, and the enormity of the facts, present clear evidence of malfeasance concerning the office, duties, and responsibilities of the secretary of state.”
The resolution charges that Marshall granted notary public commissions to several hundred persons who did not reside legally in the United States. Also, it charges that Marshall granted said notary commissions to ineligible aliens surreptitiously, or without means for the public or the General Assembly to have knowledge of such action.
It charges further that Marshall made untrue statements to the press and public involving the granting of these notary commissions to ineligible aliens, and that senior staff of the Office of the Secretary of State, in furtherance of Marshall’s actions, misrepresented the facts surrounding the granting of these notary commissions to ineligible aliens to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on General Government of the North Carolina General Assembly.
Marshall released a statement Wednesday afternoon which said, “I strongly oppose today’s House Rules Committee resolution and I reject Representative Millis’ claim that any state or federal laws were broken by this Department. My Office has never commissioned a notary public on the basis of a DACA card.”
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals cards, an Obama administration program, which protects from deportation youths who came to the United States as children. It also provides them a work permit, which Mills says Marshall’s office has been using in commissioning illegals as notaries.
Marshall’s statement also said, “I can only conclude that this is a political attack and nothing else.”
At a press conference in March, Millis called for the resignation of Marshall, a Democrat, for issuing notary public commissions to illegal aliens in North Carolina. Millis said that Marshall issued 320 notary public commissions over the last nine years to persons with no legal residency status.
“I have sent a letter to the North Carolina Secretary of State, Elaine Marshall, requesting her immediate resignation from office,” Millis said at that time. “I have made it clear that if the secretary chooses not to resign, I will proceed with all legislative actions, including a resolution of impeachment.”
Marshall has denied the charges, and Millis is following through on his threat of legislative action.
Notaries are officers of the state, certified by the secretary’s office, which have the power to supervise various transactions, confer deeds of trust and certify the authenticity of other documents.
One of the requirements in state law of notaries is that they legally reside in the United States through either being a naturally born citizen or gaining citizenship or a Permanent Resident Alien Card, usually known as a green card.
Millis said that documents obtained from Marshall’s office show that her administration routinely accepted another form of alien identification, DACA cards.
Marshall issued a statement on March 28, 2017, when Millis called for her resignation.
The statement said, “This is simply a rehashing of the political attack used by my opponent in the recent election. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has authorized the specifically mentioned notaries to work here lawfully. That federally authorized status continues to be unchanged by the new Presidential administration.”
Marshall also rejected Millis’ claim that DACA cards were routinely used as identification for commissioning notaries.
Michael LaPaglia, Marshall’s opponent in the November 2016, had brought up the issue of illegals being commissioned as notaries during his campaign for Secretary of State.
— Michael LaPaglia (@LaPagliaForNC) September 27, 2016
Marshall sent a letter to House Speaker Tim Moore and Millis on April 10, 2017. In that letter, Marshall wrote that the only forms of ID that have been accepted for commissioning notaries are permanent resident cards, employment authorization cards or visas. She again denied that DACA cards have been used as an acceptable form of ID.
Marshall asserted that this is in line with existing North Carolina law that states one of the qualifications for being commissioned as a notary is to reside legally in the United States. Marshall wrote that using Homeland Security-issued documents meets this qualification.
Millis told the House Rules Committee that the resolution has been determined by the legislative staff and the House clerk’s office to be the proper process.
The last impeachment of a public official in North Carolina was in 1870.
Mike Arnold, senior advisor, policy & government relations at the Secretary of State’s Office told the committee that the U.S. Department of Justice has looked at the notary process in place in North Carolina and found no issues.
Deputy Secretary of State Haley Haynes told the committee that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1984 that U.S. citizenship was not to be a disqualifier for becoming a notary.
Rep. Beverly Earle, (D-Mecklenburg) said, “It seems to me that you should have substantial information before going forth on such a witch hunt.”
Millis reiterated to the committee that the resolution was merely creating a Select Committee for purposes of investigating Marshall’s commissioning of notaries.
The resolution passed by a vote of 20-10 in the Rules Committee and would next be heard by the full House.