Greitens says education nominees withdrawn for confirmation
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Gov. Eric Greitens sent a letter Friday to the Senate saying his five appointees to the State Board of Education had withdrawn from consideration — a move intended to avoid a permanent ban on them serving on the board.
Some senators had blocked confirmation of the appointees because of frustration that they had voted to fire education commissioner Margie Vandeven last year. If the nominees aren't confirmed or withdrawn by the May 18 end of work for the regular legislative session, they would be barred for life from the board that oversees Missouri's K-12 public schools.
Greitens originally appointed Eddy Justice, John Russell, Marvin Jungmeyer, Jennifer Edwards and Eric Teeman to the education board while the Legislature was not in session last year. That meant they could start serving immediately, subject to Senate confirmation during the first 30 days of the regular session that started in January.
The board members followed Greitens' apparent wishes and voted to remove Vandeven from her job in December. That frustrated some senators who had supported Vandeven, particularly because the action came before senators had a chance to consider whether to confirm the appointees.
In January, Greitens withdrew the nominees and reappointed them during the legislative session to give senators more time to consider them. That meant the nominees were no longer on the board and needed Senate confirmation to return to their positions.
But some senators have continued to block a vote on their confirmation with the goal of barring the appointees from ever serving on the board again.
Friday's withdrawal letter would mean that Greitens could potentially appoint the nominees again at a later date.
But Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard said Friday he's not sure the governor can simply withdraw the nominations without some action by the Senate to accept that. And it's unclear whether senators would accept the withdrawals.
The governor's office pointed to a 1977 attorney general's opinion as grounds for withdrawing the nominees.
That opinion, signed by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, said that someone appointed to a state board during a legislative session "could withdraw himself from consideration by the Senate before the Senate rejects the appointment or fails to approve the appointment" and still retain the "right to be reappointed" at some other time.