AUGUSTA — A Republican lawmaker from Paris filed a formal resolution Wednesday to impeach Secretary of State Shenna Bellows over her decision to remove former President Donald Trump from the Republican primary ballot because of his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol – a decision that has been appealed in court.

The resolution filed by Rep. John Andrews marks the beginning of a long shot effort to oust Bellows, a Democrat, from an office to which she was appointed by the Legislature. Both legislative chambers are controlled by Democrats, and Maine law only allows impeachment for “a misdemeanor in office.”

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows in Augusta. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Andrews is arguing that Bellows should have recused herself from considering Trump’s eligibility because she is biased.

“Shenna Bellows was an Elector in the Electoral College for Joe Biden in 2020,” Andrews said in a text response to a reporter’s question. “She cannot be considered impartial by any rational standard with Joe Biden on the ballot. She needs to be Impeached or resign. One of her qualified Deputies should be running the 2024 Presidential election in Maine.”

It’s unclear when the House of Representatives would take up the resolution.

House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland, said Wednesday that although some disagree with Bellows’ decision “disagreement does not meet the criteria for impeachment.”


Bellows said Wednesday that Republicans have no basis to impeach her.

“It would be unprecedented for an elected official to be removed for doing their duty under the law and the Constitution of the United States,” she said. “I am really proud of the work my department has done and continues to do to protect the rights of every Mainer (and) to serve Mainers.”

In addition to the Andrews’ filing, top-ranked Republicans flanked by dozens of legislators held a news conference to blast Bellows. They cast her decision to remove Trump from the ballot as a political move meant to increase her national profile as she considers running for a future office.

“In my mind, she has proven herself unfit for the office and has lost the trust of the Maine people,” said House Minority Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor.

Senate Minority Leader Trey Stewart, R-Presque Isle, said Bellows’ decision will mobilize the Republican base ahead of the 2024 elections, when all 186 seats in the Legislature will be up for grabs. The party that controls the Legislature gets to appoint the three constitutional officers, including the secretary of state. “I can tell you the Republican base in Maine is incredibly energized over this.”

Two lawmakers called for Bellows to resign while speaking on the House floor.


Rep. Shelley Rudniki, R-Fairfield, criticized Bellows for not disclosing she was a Biden elector before issuing her decision. “This makes her unacceptable to continue her position as secretary of state and I demand that she resign.”

Rep. Barbara Bagshaw, R-Windham, made a similar appeal during a solemn remembrance of former Rep. Lois Reckitt, a longtime Democratic representative from South Portland who died in October. Talbot Ross interrupted Bagshaw by banging her gavel and called the outburst “inappropriate and offensive” to Reckitt’s family.

Bellows dismissed Republican criticisms as “political theater.”

“I made my decision grounded in my oath to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law,” said Bellows, who has since been targeted by threats and a swatting incident in which someone made a false report to police about an emergency at her home. “Neither considerations for the political consequences or personal safety could or did enter into it.”

She would not talk on the record about why she did not recuse herself from the hearing. When asked whether she had plans to run for higher office, Bellows threw up her hands and said she was focused on doing her job and protecting her family.

States have the power to oversee their own elections, but the process for challenging a candidate’s qualifications varies. In Maine, the secretary of state must consider appeals and make a decision. That decision can then be appealed to the superior court, and the Trump campaign filed an appeal Tuesday.


Bellows voluntarily stayed her decision until a court rules on any appeal. While Trump’s attorneys filed an appeal with the Kennebec County Superior Court on Tuesday, his eligibility will likely be determined by the U.S. Supreme Court since several states are grappling with the same issues and challenges.

Andrews’ impeachment resolution calls for the establishment of a House Special Investigative Committee to “investigate allegations of misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance and other misconduct.” The 13-member committee, which would include six Republicans, would be charged with issuing a report by Jan. 31 to the full House, which would vote on whether or not to impeach. It would take a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict.

An aide for Gov. Janet Mills said she believes the impeachment effort is unjustified because Bellows was required by law to issue a ruling on the petition challenging Trump’s candidacy. However, the governor also believes the decision about Trump’s eligibility should be left to voters, unless a court decides otherwise, a spokesperson said.

“While the secretary was required by law to rule on the petition, the governor believes that the question of whether former President Trump violated the 14th amendment is a question that must be answered by the courts – and she believes it should be done so nationally rather than in a piecemeal fashion state-by-state,” Ben Goodman said. “Without a judicial determination on that question, she believes that the decision of whether the former president should be considered for the presidency belongs in the hands of the people.”

A spokesperson for Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, said that although he might not have reached the same conclusion as Bellows did, he condemned the threats she has received and rejected the call for her impeachment.

“Whether or not people agree with the secretary of state’s ruling, it was her decision to make,” Christine Kirby said. “At the same time, President Jackson fails to see where her actions violated her oath of office or qualify as a misdemeanor and would merit impeachment.

“The word impeachment is thrown around a lot these days, but it is not just a tool for politicians to use when they disagree with one another.”

Staff Writer Rachel Ohm contributed to this report.

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