Breaking with a State Senate tradition that has, never, ever been broken, the Columbus Dispatch reports today that some Senate Republicans have declared that they will not confirm any Strickland appointee that has been pending confirmation unless the appointee agrees to resign by the end of the year. And in case you thought these were lame-duck appointees:
The Senate has gone more than five months without holding a voting session, allowing the number of unconfirmed Strickland appointees to pile up even though they already are serving in their posts. They include numerous university trustees, some Bureau of Workers’ Compensation board members and a Third Frontier Commission member.
The article goes on to note that Governor Strickland accepted a significant number of Taft appointees. In fact, when it was revealed that Taft had failed to strictly comply with the process of nominating appointees to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), Governor Strickland reappointed them instead of taking advantage of the situation to appoint his own preferred appointees.
Gubernatorial administrations have always had to live with the fact that certain appointments from the prior administrations, and that’s been by design. After all, why else would Ohio law create terms that allow appointees that exceed the people who appointed them unless it was by design to create a bridge of experience from one Administration to the next.
This isn’t a principled stand by these Republican State Senators, it’s just a naked partisan act to try and increase the number of patronage jobs they themselves might get as they face term limits.
John Kasich’s margin of victory was roughly two points in an election in which turnout was so low he failed to get the majority of the minority of people who actually voted. So, yet again, we see Republicans insist that the man who was elected to the office with the vote of over 60% of the people, in an election where more than half the registered voters voted bow the will of a Governor-elect who didn’t get a majority of the vote in an election when most registered voters stayed home.
So far, only one Republican State Senator gets it. Senator Kevin Coughlin:
“Unless there is an extraordinary problem with a governor’s appointment – an ethical breach or a legal problem – I don’t believe it’s our place to deny those appointments,” he said. “It sets a poor precedent for the future. I think it undermines the institutional integrity of the Senate to do that.”
Article III, Section 21 of the Ohio Constitution says:
When required by law, appointments to state office shall be subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.
Much like the U.S. Constitution, the advice and consent role of the State Senate was no different. It has never stood, in Ohio or federally, that the Senate could sit on appointments for five months, wait out the result of the election, and then wholesale declare them unfit for appoint for no other reason than the result of the gubernatorial election. Many of these very same Senators were in office in 2006. Not a single one of Governor Taft’s appointments were denied because he was a lame-duck Governor and the appointee’s term went into the new Governor’s Administration.
Nothing in Ohio Constitution’s has ever said that the Senate should reject the appointment upon the plurality election of a Governor of their party. And yet, the Ohio Senate Republicans expect us to believe this isn’t a naked partisan act.
Governor Strickland, despite the strong mandate he was given when he won, was never given the “flexibility” that outgoing Senate President Bill Harris insists the mandate-less Kasich be given (even though Strickland got a larger share of the vote than Bob Taft ever got even against nominal opposition in 2002.) And if you think that Governor-elect Kasich has nothing to do with this issue, you are fooling yourself. The only reason the Senate Republicans would even consider this is because Kasich has already indicated to them that they want to free up even more jobs that he can pass around as political patronage.
How do you write a story like this and not even ask Governor-elect Kasich for comment, let alone inquire whether he has any role in this? It’s because the Dispatch isn’t interested in finding out the answer because they’re afraid they know what it is.
It’s been eight days since Kasich was declared the winner of an incredibly close gubernatorial election. The closest one since at least 1978. And already we’ve seen:
- Kasich killed the prospect of over 10,000 jobs to improve our commercial infrastructure for no other reason than politics by rejecting $400 million to develop the 3C passenger rail system that was first drafted during the Voinovich Administration.
- After calling allegations that he supported school consolidation a “vicious smear” that the teachers unions should take a full-page ad apologizing for, Kasich came out after the election in favor of…. school consolidation.
- Kasich has jeopardized $400 million in federal school reform money over his vow to “kill” Strickland’s evidence-based funding model.
- Kasich has appointed as the Executive Director of his Inaugural Committee a man with a 2004 conviction involving public corruption in a State office.
- We’ve learn his long-serving Congressional chief-of-staff has set up a lobbying shop to sell access to the Governor-elect.
- Medicaid eligibility is to be cut in half to pay for over $820 million in tax cuts.
- He’s made no appointments to people in his Administration responsible for economic development or announced any plan to create jobs like he promised. In fact, he’s announced that the implementation of his JobsOhio privatization plan of the Ohio Department of Development is postponed indefinitely.
- And Kasich is asking the State Senate help clear the State of Strickland appointees so he has more patronage jobs to hand out to his political supporters.
And he’s not… even…. in …. office… yet.
Is this really a New Way, New Day in Ohio? Because it sounds awfully like the Taft Administration to me… but worse. (I guess that’s change.)