How do Franklin County voters feel about pending impeachment probe?

Published: May. 5, 2023 at 10:44 AM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - How do Franklin County voters feel about the impeachment probe into the county’s two top elected law enforcement officials? Lawmakers announced Thursday they are investigating the conduct of both State’s Attorney John Lavoie and Sheriff John Grismore, which could lead to impeachment.

It’s the first impeachment investigation in Vermont in nearly 50 years.

John Lavoie, who took office this year, is facing allegations he used discriminatory and sexist language toward women in his office. John Grismore is facing a criminal probe after being caught on camera shoving a detainee with his foot.

“In each of these cases, the circumstances are very different but we are going to look at them fairly and consider the evidence and the testimony that we hear,” said Rep. Mike McCarthy, D-St. Albans.

Vermont Attorney General Charity Clark on Friday joined lawmakers and other state officials in calling for Franklin County State’s Attorney John Lavoie to step down. Clark says the allegations in a 10-page memo this week are deeply troubling and unacceptable.

“Lavoie has eroded the public’s trust. To allow the Franklin County State’s Attorney’s Office to continue their important work without this distraction and to restore a supportive and professional workplace culture, I join the Department of State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs in asking State’s Attorney Lavoie to step down,” Clark said in a statement.

In St. Albans, Franklin County voters we spoke to Friday reflected on the weight of the situation. “As teachers, it will be an excellent history lesson for students these days,” said Christine Reighley of Sheldon.

”It’s very serious for sure,” said Susan Ruprecht of East Berkshire.

Many had mixed feelings about the process and are waiting for more information to come out about Lavoie. But others support the impeachment investigation into Grismore, as he was the only name on the ballot and some didn’t vote for him. “I wrote someone else in, so I think he kind of got voted in by default,” Ruprecht said.

Just as they do at the national level, House impeachment managers would prosecute the trial, and the Senate would act as a jury and vote on conviction. Experts say reversing the will of the people in a state with a rich tradition of local control is no small task.

“The deliberation that’s going into it is a sign of how seriously lawmakers are taking it and how seriously lawmakers want us to understand it is. They don’t want to be seen moving too quickly on this because it is a serious matter to be overturning the will of the voters,” said Bert Johnson, a political; science professor at Middlebury College. He adds that impeachment in Vermont is actually a higher bar than at the national level. Two-thirds of the House has to vote to impeach before the Senate can conduct a trial. He also says lawmakers are being careful to avoid appearing political. Lavoie was elected as a Democrat and Grismore as a Republican.

The bipartisan select committee to investigate both men will likely form next week.

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