Most of you have probably seen this already, but I thought you might want to discuss it here.
Facing lawsuits from fired prison officials who say Gov. Rod Blagojevich broke his pledge to keep good employees, lawyers for the state offered a surprising defense: His promises were “classic political puffery.”
In a political year, the premise that Blagojevich made promises he didn’t intend to keep could be troublesome for the governor to explain. But the puffery defense proved to be a sound legal strategy. […]
The administration argued successfully to dismiss allegations in some of the cases, which maintained that some of Blagojevich’s public statements constituted an offer of extended employment to the prison officials. One of the Blagojevich statements was reported in the State Journal-Register, the Springfield paper.
“We’re not looking to purge state government of different men and women who are hired during Republican administrations,” Blagojevich said in August 2003. “I would say to the men and women working in state government that, if they’re doing a job necessary for the public and doing it well, they have nothing to fear from this administration.”
The state, in multiple cases, argued that “it is clear that the classic political puffery relied upon by plaintiff cannot give rise to liability for the state.”
The state argued that Blagojevich’s statements weren’t clear enough for any employee to believe they constituted an offer. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the governor on that issue in the case of Kibby-Brown, but she was allowed to proceed on the patronage count and other matters.
Three cases, including the one brought by Pierson, have been dismissed outright by the federal appeals court but the workers are considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Have at it.