Lawmaker calls for NC Secretary of State to resign or risk impeachment

Sec. Elaine Marshall faces possibly impeachment after records show that hundreds of illegal residents have been commissioned as notaries

Eamon Queeney—North State Journal
Representative Chris Millis calls for the resignation of North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall during a press conference at the Legislative Building in Raleigh

RALEIGH — State Rep. Chris Millis (R-Onslow) is asking for the resignation of Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, under threat of impeachment if she does not. In a press conference Tuesday morning, Millis presented documents outlining a long-term practice from Marshall’s office of providing illegal residents authority to act as notaries on official documents, along with what he says is an intentional effort to hide the practice from the public and lawmakers.”I’ve sent a letter to the Secretary of State Elaine Marshall requesting her immediate resignation,” said Millis at a press conference Tuesday. “Within my letter to the secretary I’ve made it clear that if the secretary chooses not to resign I will proceed with all legislative actions including a resolution for impeachment.”According to documents obtained through a public records request, for years the secretary of State’s office has been granting notary seals to people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, status. These are individuals who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children and have grown up in the country. They apply for DACA status as adults, which means the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will defer action on their immigration status. If their DACA status is approved, they can separately be granted a legal work authorization, called an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).Millis points out that according to explicit DHS policy, issuance of either of these documents is not written into state or federal law, just departmental immigration policy. More importantly, neither documents grant legal residence, a core requirement to be a notary public.”None of these 320-plus notaries reside legally in the United States as our North Carolina notary law requires, nor do they meet the requirements set forth on the application to become a notary published by the secretary of State’s office,” said Millis.In the documents Millis obtained through a public records request in February, staff identified 320 DACA cards that were accepted in lieu of green cards, which denotes legal residence status. More than 100 other categories of EADs were also accepted in lieu of green cards.The records showed that under Marshall, 250 DACA aliens were commissioned as notaries public in North Carolina and another 72 people with nonresident status were also granted the authority to notarize official documents. One of the records shows that a person with an existing deportation order was commissioned as an official notary.”One notary commissioned by the secretary was an alien against whom a final order of deportation existed,” said Millis.Among the documents that require a notary signature in N.C. are wills, deeds, marriage licenses, and travel and temporary guardianship documents for minor children. Notaries public can also serve as witness to absentee ballots, thus creating opportunities for voter fraud.”In this era of heightened sensitivity to voter fraud, election interference and tension over immigration policy, it is especially troubling that the secretary has commissioned more than 320 alien notaries who can single-handedly validate absentee ballots,” said Millis.Millis said the among the most concerning points is the level of secrecy within the Marshall’s office as the issuance of notary commissions accelerated among DACA holders.In 2013, the process was streamlined and some oversight was eliminated within the department. The requirement that a notary be recommended by a local public official was also removed.”My letter requesting the secretary’s immediate resignation outlines all this information, along with documenting a number of misleading and false statements the secretary and her office has made to the public including the General Assembly surrounding this very topic,” said Millis.This is not the first time this issue has been raised. In February, after the North State Journal published a story on the state issuance of notary commissions to nonresidents, documents show that the Secretary of State’s office asked the N.C. Department of Justice for help. In a series of memos between the two state agencies, the Secretary of State asked DOJ to affirm the practice of accepting EAD in lieu of green cards. In initial drafts of the DOJ advisory letter, a state lawyer advised that they should not accept EAD cards, but after more communication, the lawyer concluded that the EAD cards should be acceptable.”… the lack of ‘lawful immigration status’ does not mean that a non-citizen is in the United States illegally,” reads the informal opinion from the office of then-Attorney General Roy Cooper. “It is my opinion that since holders of USCIS-issued EADs have been determined by USCIS to be lawfully present in the United States such persons necessarily meet the ‘reside legally’ requirements …”The multiple drafts and meetings to obtain an informal opinion on the matter occurred after the first press reports of the practice and years after the initiation of the policy. Still, in the weeks after the NSJ article, staff members appeared on television denying that DACA cards were accepted by the Secretary of State to obtain notary commissioning.In Millis’ letter to Marshall, he wrote that if she did not resign he will purse legislative action, including her impeachment.”Because of your failures, along with the fact that your actions have been masked from the public through both false and misleading statements, I am compelled to call for your immediate resignation from the office of secretary of State,” Millis’ letter read.Marshall has been Secretary of State for nearly 20 years. In 1996, she beat Republican NASCAR legend Richard Petty for the job, becoming the first woman to hold statewide elected office in North Carolina. She has twice run as a Democrat for U.S. Senate, losing to Erskine Bowles in 2002 and Richard Burr in 2010.Marshall has not responded to requests for comment on Millis’ accusations or his calls for her resignation.