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When is withdrawing a nominee’s name not withdrawing his name?

Governor Blunt at least appeared to withdraw Rick Sullivan as head of the SLPS Special Administrative Board (SAB) and Derio Gambaro, former state rep., as a member of the state School Board when Blunt sent a letter to the senate Wednesday of last week, saying:

“I hereby withdraw from your consideration the following appointments to office submitted to you on August 20, 2007 for your advice and consent…”.

Sullivan and Gambaro were on that list.

At the time most SAB watchers assumed the governor was withdrawing Sullivan’s name because he knew he didn’t have the senate votes necessary for confirmation.  If the senators voted against Sullivan, then he’d be out for good.  This way, the governor could simply reappoint Sullivan after the session ended.  People thought.

But that’s not, apparently, how Blunt sees the situation.  As far as he’s concerned, he didn’t withdraw their names; he only withdrew their names from consideration by the senate.  As far as Blunt is concerned, they still are, just as they have been all summer, his recess appointments.  He just figured he could bypass that pesky senate vote and leave the men in office.

Diana Bourisaw indicated, in effect, that that was Blunt’s thinking, when she issued this statement:

“Rick Sullivan’s appointment to the Special Administrative Board remains in effect. Reports indicating that Governor Blunt withdrew Mr. Sullivan’s appointment are unfounded. The district will continue with business as usual. The next meeting of the Special Administrative Board is Thursday, September 6, at 6 p.m.”

But Machiavelli may be about to trip over the Pink Panther’s feet because the Missouri constitution specifies:

If the senate is not in session, the authority to act shall commence immediately upon appointment by the governor but shall terminate if the advice and consent of the senate is not given within thirty days after the senate has convened in regular or special session. If the senate fails to give its advice and consent to any appointee, that person shall not be reappointed by the governor to the same office or position.

In other words, if the recess nominee doesn’t get senate approval within thirty days of the special session, he is out.  For good.  That’s what the constitution says, Mr. Blunt.

If the governor had really withdrawn their names and then reappointed them, they’d be good to go, legally, until the Senate votes next January–by which time the Blunt camp hopes to have the necessary votes.  (There is question as to whether Joan Bray and Jeff Smith will use their pocket vetoes at that time to kill the nominations of the two men.  They say they haven’t decided.  Senate president Michael Gibbons avers that he would abide by their vetoes if they chose not to support Gambaro and Sullivan.)

But this nomination that appeared to be withdrawn–but really wasn’t?–now that could create legal havoc down the line, opening the gate for lawsuits challenging the legality of anything the SAB does in the next four months.

Gibbons understands what the constitution has to say about the matter and has said that the governor needs to reappoint the two men.  Perhaps he can get that notion through the governor’s skull.  Because, as it stands, Inspector Matt Clouseau may think he’s Machiavelli, but …cue Pink Panther music.

Thanks to W. Purdy for the information on which this posting is based.