GOP state senator appointed Missouri lieutenant governor

5 months 3 weeks 1 day ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 1:15:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
By: Blake Nelson, The Associated Press
loading

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Gov. Mike Parson appointed state Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe to be the new lieutenant governor on Monday, despite some legal uncertainty about whether he has the authority to fill the position.

Missouri's constitution isn't clear on whether a governor has the authority to appoint a lieutenant governor, which is the state's second-ranking executive position. Historically, some governors have claimed the right to do so, but legislators have argued that the position must be filled by voters, since the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately.

The lieutenant governor's office has been vacant since June 1, when former Gov. Eric Greitens resigned and Parson ascended to the top spot.

Both Parson and Kehoe are Republicans.

The constitution provides no details about how a lieutenant governor should be replaced, but it does give governors the power to fill vacancies, "unless otherwise provided by law." Missouri law, meanwhile, stipulates that the governor has the power to fill empty elected offices, but it lists a few exceptions, including the role of lieutenant governor. Another law says the governor and lieutenant governor should remain in office "until their successors are elected and qualified."

Joe Bednar, a Democrat who served as legal counsel for three governors, and Lowell Pearson, a Republican and former chief counsel to Gov. Matt Blunt, told The Associated Press that they believed the appointment was legal.

The fact that state law concerning appointments excluded the office of lieutenant governor didn't mean that one couldn't be appointed, each argued. It just meant there was no special process to follow, and since the constitution noted that the state "shall" have a lieutenant governor Parson was obligated to fill the vacancy.

"It just simply is not clear enough to remove the constitutional appointment power that the governor has, in my judgment," Pearson said about state law.

Bednar said: "The constitution always trumps state statute. ... I feel like it's straight-forward."

That was the same advice Bednar gave almost 20 years ago when he was chief legal counsel for former Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan, who was killed in a plane crash in October 2000 and succeeded by Lt. Gov. Roger Wilson. Bednar told Wilson that the Missouri Constitution gave him the power to appoint a replacement, and Wilson subsequently appointed Sen. Joe Maxwell to the No. 2 post.

Maxwell, however, had already been elected lieutenant governor and was simply starting his term early.

Conversely, former Senate President Pro Tem and Republican Tom Dempsey cited the same statute in 2013 when arguing against a governor's ability to appoint a lieutenant governor.

Stephen Webber, chair of the Missouri Democratic Party, said they were considering challenging the appointment in court.

"Our belief is that the voters should have a right to vote for who their lieutenant governor is," Webber said.

A legislative effort to clarify the process failed in May.

As state senators in 2013, both Parson and Kehoe voted for a bill that would have directed the governor to call a special election for a new lieutenant governor. The bill passed both chambers but was vetoed by then-Gov. Jay Nixon.

Kehoe was first elected to the state Senate in 2010 after years as a car dealership owner. He is not able to run for re-election in the Senate because of term limits.

A lieutenant governor presides over the Senate and votes when there is a tie. That last happened in 2017. State law also dictates that the governor-in-waiting sit on several boards and commissions.

The position pays more than $86,000 a year.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri defensive end Tre Williams has been arrested on suspicion of felony second-degree domestic assault and... More >>
24 minutes ago Monday, December 10 2018 Dec 10, 2018 Monday, December 10, 2018 10:39:20 AM CST December 10, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Those struggling to afford holiday gifts for their loved ones may still have options. Registration ends today for... More >>
7 hours ago Monday, December 10 2018 Dec 10, 2018 Monday, December 10, 2018 3:27:53 AM CST December 10, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia firefighters responded to a fire at Columbia Crossing Apartments on Towne Drive late Sunday night. Division... More >>
11 hours ago Sunday, December 09 2018 Dec 9, 2018 Sunday, December 09, 2018 11:30:00 PM CST December 09, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- Treacherous driving conditions and canceled flights could keep residents stuck at home for days as a nasty mix... More >>
16 hours ago Sunday, December 09 2018 Dec 9, 2018 Sunday, December 09, 2018 6:25:00 PM CST December 09, 2018 in News
OSAGE BEACH – A dog groomer in Osage Beach has made it a mission to train service dogs after she... More >>
20 hours ago Sunday, December 09 2018 Dec 9, 2018 Sunday, December 09, 2018 2:08:00 PM CST December 09, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — University of Missouri faculty members are raising concerns that the system's move to offer buyouts to... More >>
23 hours ago Sunday, December 09 2018 Dec 9, 2018 Sunday, December 09, 2018 11:47:00 AM CST December 09, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Officers with the Columbia Police Department responded to a shots fired call inside the Steak ‘n Shake on... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, December 09 2018 Dec 9, 2018 Sunday, December 09, 2018 10:38:00 AM CST December 09, 2018 in News
JAMESTOWN - Grace United Methodist Church held its seasonal music recital on Sunday featuring a 117-year-old historic church organ. ... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, December 09 2018 Dec 9, 2018 Sunday, December 09, 2018 9:58:00 AM CST December 09, 2018 in News
FULTON - Fulton police officers responded to the Fulton Medical Center regarding a possible assault early Sunday morning. According... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, December 09 2018 Dec 9, 2018 Sunday, December 09, 2018 9:00:00 AM CST December 09, 2018 in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY - A Kansas City woman was arrested Saturday and charged with multiple felony counts of possession of a... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, December 09 2018 Dec 9, 2018 Sunday, December 09, 2018 7:30:00 AM CST December 09, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - All weekend the Central Missouri Humane Society is encouraging people to come adopt animals. The humane society has... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 08 2018 Dec 8, 2018 Saturday, December 08, 2018 9:35:00 PM CST December 08, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Down Syndrome Guild of Central Missouri had its first learning seminar in Columbia on Saturday. The seminar... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 08 2018 Dec 8, 2018 Saturday, December 08, 2018 9:33:00 PM CST December 08, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia teen who was killed in a crash Saturday morning was a senior at Christian Fellowship School,... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 08 2018 Dec 8, 2018 Saturday, December 08, 2018 8:55:00 PM CST December 08, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Karis Church in northwest Columbia held its third annual Affordable Christmas event early Saturday morning. This is... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 08 2018 Dec 8, 2018 Saturday, December 08, 2018 6:40:00 PM CST December 08, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- White House chief of staff John Kelly will be leaving his position at the end of the year,... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 08 2018 Dec 8, 2018 Saturday, December 08, 2018 2:56:00 PM CST December 08, 2018 in News
CAMDEN COUNTY - A Camden County Sheriff's deputy was involved in a car crash Friday on Route MM near Villages... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 08 2018 Dec 8, 2018 Saturday, December 08, 2018 2:47:00 PM CST December 08, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Only one person was injured after two overnight fires kept fire crews busy into the weekend. ... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, December 08 2018 Dec 8, 2018 Saturday, December 08, 2018 8:33:00 AM CST December 08, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Runners and walkers dressed up in holiday wear for the annual Jingle Bell Run in Columbia on Saturday,... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, December 08 2018 Dec 8, 2018 Saturday, December 08, 2018 7:43:00 AM CST December 08, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 33°
11am 30°
12pm 32°
1pm 35°
2pm 37°