As Donald Trump is facing possible indictment in Fulton County, some of Georgia's most powerful Republicans want to give the state more power to control and remove district attorneys.
A pair of bills introduced Thursday by state Reps. Houston Gaines and Joseph Gullett follow up on calls from Gov. Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Burt Jones to bring "accountability" to local prosecutors, but the legislators insist the bill has nothing to do with the criminal investigation by district attorney Fani Willis into the former president's efforts to overturn his election loss in the state, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“If a prosecutor is not doing his or her job, we need a system in state law to remove that individual from office,” Gaines said. “It is past time we take on rogue prosecutors in Georgia who are putting lives in danger every single day.”
House Bill 229 would significantly lower the threshold for signatures required -- from 20 percent of registered voters to 2 percent -- to recall a prosecutor and stipulate that a failure to review every case could be grounds for removal, and House Bill 231 would establish a panel that could remove prosecutors for a variety of reasons.
“There is already oversight over district attorneys,” said Democratic state Sen. Elena Parent. “They have to be elected by voters. They also can be recalled by their voters. In San Francisco, voters recalled their DA when they were dissatisfied with his performance. Georgians can do the same.”
Members of the proposed Prosecuting Attorneys Oversight Commission would be appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and legislative leaders, and Gullett said Georgians have been "begging" to hold "corrupt prosecutors" accountable.
Gaines and Gullett had two prosecutors from their own districts in mind when introducing their bills.
Athens-Clarke County district attorney Deborah Gonzalez, a Democrat who lost her House seat to Gaines in 2018, has been accused by Republicans of mismanaging her office, and former Paulding County district attorney Dick Donovan, a Republican, resigned in January 2022 after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unprofessional conduct stemming from a sexual harassment accusation.
“The proposed committee would serve to erode this system of checks and balances and directly undermine the will of the voters by moving the fate of locally elected officials out of their jurisdiction,” Gonzalez told the newspaper.