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The Republican-controlled Missouri House will begin impeachment proceedings against Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday. Why? There are three reasons, according to the state legislature's judiciary committee. First, Nixon allowed legally-married same-sex couples in the state to file joint tax returns in order to keep the state consistent with the IRS's post-Defense of Marriage Act policies. Second, Republicans argue Nixon took too long to call a special election to replace legislative vacancies. Third, Republicans believe that Nixon didn't punish state officials enough over a controversy involving concealed carry permits. 

So, will Nixon get impeached? It's unlikely. Republicans control both the state's House and Senate, but as the Washington Post notes, the bills probably won't make it to a final vote in both houses of the legislature. Even if they did, the state constitution outlines that the governor can't actually be removed from office unless five of seven state judges convict him. 

In other words, the impeachment proceedings are likely more of an opportunity for a handful of Republican legislators to make a point than they are a serious threat to Nixon's office. The legislative ring leader of the pro-impeachment representatives is state Rep. Nick Marshall, who promised to begin proceedings in November: 



According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Marshall's move was prompted by Nixon's executive order allowing the state to accept joint tax returns from married, same-sex couples. Missouri's ban on same-sex marriage prohibits the sate from recognizing legal, same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. 

But the third reason behind the impeachment proceedings — the concealed carry permit controversy — has also captured the imagination of Nixon's political opponents. Basically, the Missouri Highway Patrol recently admitted that it has, on two occasions, provided federal investigators with lists of Missourians holding concealed carry permits in the state. Nixon has said that the move is legal, and that it was in order to aid in specific federal investigations. Some Republicans, however, argue that the move violated the privacy of permit holders and that the government might be trying to collect the names of gun owners for surveillance. Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones said he was " very concerned that this may be a back-door attempt to create the Eric Holder gun registry, " according to the Post-Dispatch. The state legislature has also been on the Nixon administration's case about the way in which the Department of Revenue handles the data of driver's license applicants. 

Only one Missouri official has successfully been impeached and removed from office in the history of the state: Former Secretary of State Judith Moriarty was impeached in 1994 following accusations that she backdated election forms filed by her son so it would appear that he didn't miss the filing deadline. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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