Saipan – Special Investigating Committee on Impeachment last week approved all five felony and corruption articles against Gov. Benigno R. Fitial related to the January 2010 unauthorized release of a federal inmate so she could massage the governor at his house.
The Saipan Tribune reports that if the rest of the 18 charges of felony, corruption, and neglect of duty are voted on by the committee this week, then the full House of Representatives could start voting on each of the articles next week.
Fitial can be impeached and convicted on any one of the 18 articles.
At least 14 “yes” votes are needed in the 20-member House to move the impeachment process to the Senate. The impeachment resolution itself has 16 cosponsors.
A minimum of six affirmative votes, meanwhile, are needed in the nine-member Senate to convict the governor.
Fitial is the first governor in CNMI history to be the subject of an impeachment resolution under special committee review. One impeachment resolution was voted down last year by his allies in the 17th House, but the 18th House leadership revived the impeachment measure this year.