The Central Election Commission (CEC) last night decided to revoke former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Diane Lee’s (李慶安) elected status both as a Taipei City councilor and as a legislator, after the US Department of State on Thursday confirmed that Lee’s US citizenship was still valid.
“The CEC believes that Diane Lee was a dual citizen between 1991 and 2005, and thus decided in a meeting today [Friday] to revoke her elected status as Taipei City councilor in 1994, and as legislator in 1999, 2002 and 2005,” CEC Secretary-General Teng Tien-yu (鄧天祐) said. “We will also void her elected certificates.”
Although Lee was re-elected as a legislator last year, Teng said the CEC could do nothing about her latest term because of changes to the nationality clause. This used to be in the Public Officials Election and Recall Law (公職人員選舉罷免法) — hence under the CEC’s jurisdiction — but was moved to the Nationality Act (國籍法) in November 2007, so is now the responsibility of the National Immigration Agency.
Teng said the CEC decision came as a result of a vote in which eight members voted for the action while three voted against it.
“The CEC made the decision based on a letter from the US Department of State that said it had completed a probe into Lee’s dual-citizenship case, and believes that Lee did not fulfill her duty to show her intention to give up US citizenship when she first took public office in Taiwan in 1994,” Teng said.
Lee’s laywer, Lee Yung-ran (李永然), protested the CEC’s decision.
“Diane Lee was legally elected ... The CEC, as an institution in the executive branch, has no right to revoke that election,” Lee Yung-ran said. “If the CEC thinks there’s a problem, they should take it to the courts and let the judiciary decide.”
Lee Yung-ran added that Diane Lee was considering legal action against the CEC’s “illegal decision.”
KMT-recommended commission member Liu Kuang-hua (劉光華) and People First Party-recommended commission member Chao Shu-chien (趙叔鍵) supported Lee Yung-ran’s view that it should be a court, not the commission, that makes the final decision.
The dual-citizenship allegation against Diane Lee first surfaced last March. At the time, she argued that by taking an oath as a public official when she was first elected as Taipei City councilor in 1994 she lost her US citizenship.
Diane Lee promised in December that she would provide a legal document proving that she longer had US citizenship by the end of last month. However, she resigned as a legislator on Jan. 8 and failed to show any document supporting her claim by Jan. 31.
Although her election was revoked, Teng said the CEC cannot require her to return the NT$100 million (US$3 million) she received in salary as a city councilor and lawmaker, as “it’s the city council and the Legislative Yuan that have the power to do so.”
“The revocation would not affect any legislative ... power Diane Lee has exercised during her terms in office because her election was ‘revoked’ not ‘invalidated’ — meaning that she exercised power legitimately when she was in office,” Teng said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) yesterday urged KMT legislators and KMT Taipei city councilors to recover the salary Lee earned from 1991 to 2005.
DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said the CEC’s decision showed the KMT-dominated legislature’s refusal to relieve Lee of her status as a legislator was wrong.