By Jason Morris and Sydney Kashiwagi, CNN
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia signed legislation Friday that will create an oversight commission with the power to remove local prosecutors and district attorneys from their jobs. The measure has been heavily criticized by Democrats, including an Atlanta-area DA, who is seriously weighing charges in connection with former President Donald Trump‘s actions in Georgia during the 2020 election.
Prior to the signing, Kemp’s office said that the measure, known as SB 92, would create “an oversight mechanism for district attorneys and solicitors-general across Georgia to ensure accountability in upholding constitution and statutory duties.”
“As hardworking law enforcement officers routinely put their lives on the line to investigate, confront, and arrest criminal offenders, I won’t stand idly by as they’re met with resistance from rogue or incompetent prosecutors who refuse to uphold the law,” Kemp said in a press release after signing the bill. He added that the creation of the commission “will help hold prosecutors driven by out-of-touch politics than commitment to their responsibilities accountable and make our communities safer.”
The GOP-led state legislature passed the bill earlier this year, mainly along party lines.
Democrats have expressed concerns that commissioners could misuse their authority to punish or remove local prosecutors unnecessarily.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who plans to announce this summer whether she’ll bring charges against Trump or his allies for their attempts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 presidential election result, has vocally opposed the the legislation, warning that it would be “dangerous” to undo decisions made by voters.
In testimony before the Judiciary Committee of the Georgia Senate earlier this year, she also described the bill as racist and retaliatory.
“This bill was never deemed necessary until a historic thing happened in 2020. And let’s just talk about it and tell the truth,” Willis testified, saying that in 2020, Georgia went from having five minority district attorneys to 14. Willis’ office did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on Friday.
Republican lawmakers have not specifically targeted Willis in the new legislation.
Under the new law, the commission will consist of eight members. Five will sit on an investigative panel tasked with investigating “alleged conduct constituting grounds for discipline” and the other three would be a part of a hearing panel that adjudicates charges and issues “disciplinary and incapacity orders.”
The new commission will convene by July 1 and put forth rules and regulations no later than October 1. Under the law, the commission will not be able to receive complaints before October 1 and will not be able to receive complaints about misconduct that happened before that date unless it is related to “a continuous pattern of conduct that continues beyond that date.”
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CNN’s Shawna Mizelle contributed to this report.