* I haven’t given this story nearly the attention it deserves. Here it is in a nutshell…
Blagojevich filed four temporary Board of Elections appointments with the secretary of state last month, to become permanent upon Senate approval… Permanent appointments to the board must be approved by two-thirds of the Senate, meaning Republican support would be needed for them to pass. Temporary appointments don’t need immediate Senate approval.
[Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson] has alleged that Blagojevich is attempting to “skirt” state law by inserting people onto the board without Senate approval and that early primary elections in Illinois make the issue more timely
* Here are the four people the governor tried to appoint to temporary board slots, with potentially problem areas highlighted by myself…
- Bruce Meckler, a Democrat whose Chicago law firm has contributed $127,000 to the governor’s campaign fund. Meckler’s firm has done more than $550,000 in business with the state in the past two years.
- Mary K. Penn of Bloomington, whose husband, John Penn, is chairman of the McLean County Democratic Party and is a prominent official with the Laborers’ International Union, which has contributed more than $1.3 million to Blagojevich’s campaign fund.
- Nicholas Grapsas of Palatine, an attorney who is a partner in the Chicago law firm of Quinlan & Carroll. The firm is chaired by the father of the governor’s chief legal counsel, William Quinlan. Blagojevich nominated Grapsas as a Republican.
- Keith Fruehling, a Republican attorney from Champaign County.
* So, how was Blagojevich able to make temporary appointments?
State statute requires that the Senate confirm all new nominees to the Board of Elections before any of them can take office. However, the state constitution allows governors to make temporary appointments to fill state board vacancies when the Legislature is in recess.
* But there was a problem with the move…
The office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued an advisory letter last week that called Blagojevich’s temporary appointments “nullities” because the vacancies they attempted to fill had not yet been created and the Senate still is in session.
* Yesterday, the governor backed down…
Gov. Rod Blagojevich backed down Tuesday from a controversial bid to remake the state’s election board. […]
“I’m pleased that was worked out,” Watson said after a meeting with the governor.
Watson credited Madigan’s five-page opinion as being a key to getting Blagojevich to reverse course.
“I think he’s got enough on his plate right now without having to deal with that problem,” said Watson.