This is a blatant defiance of the law and the commissioners who voted in favor should be run out of town on a rail. They have utterly undermined any faith in the integrity of the Elections Commission.
A bipartisan state commission has voted to retain Michael Haas as the state’s top election official, defying a state Senate vote a day earlier to oust him.
The move came despite strident protest from two Republican commissioners, including former state Rep. Dean Knudson, who warned it could bring “chaos” by creating a legitimacy crisis with state elections.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Wednesday the Senate is bracing for a legal battle over Haas.
The commission voted 4-2 Wednesday, with Republican commissioner Beverly Gill joining three Democratic commissioners, to retain Haas through April 30.
When “advice and consent” was originally used in the U.S. Constitution, there was some debate over what it actually meant. Was the Executive supposed to actually convene the Senate and allow them to give input on things like a grand council? Did the Senate actually have the power to deny the Executive action or did he just have to allow the Senators input before acting? After a rather vigorous debate, the Founders decided that the Executive could negotiate things subject to an “advice and consent” clause, but that the Senate had the power to approve or deny the action. Ever since then, the “advise and consent” language has been used and interpreted the same way by other levels of government in America.
In this case, the statute regarding the appointment of an administrator for the Elections Commission is very clear. It reads:
1. The elections commission shall be under the direction and supervision of an administrator, who shall be appointed by a majority of the members of the commission, with the advice and consent of the senate, to serve for a 4-year term expiring on July 1 of the odd-numbered year. Until the senate has confirmed an appointment made under this subdivision, the elections commission shall be under the direction and supervision of an interim administrator selected by a majority of the members of the commission.
Are we clear? Crystal.
What the Commissioners are doing is just reappointing the same person that the Senate rejected as an Interim Administrator. Then, I suppose, the Senate could reject the person again and the commissioners could reappoint him again. And around, around we go. This is certainly not the intent of the law and it is it has generally been interpreted at every level of government that once the legislative declines to give its consent, the action is dead.
Rather than fight this in the court for years, my advice to the legislature would be to just amend the statute with language specifying what happens if consent is not given. While they are at it, they can provide a process for quickly removing rogue commissioners.