JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Two weeks after the Senate Committee on Gubernatorial Appointments voted to advance the name of one appointment to the Missouri State Board of Education, that same appointment has stalled on the Senate floor.
Sen. President Pro Tem Ron Richard on Tuesday put forward the nomination of Eddy Justice, one of the five appointees made by Gov. Eric Greitens in the last year.
And the chamber, in turn, echoed their message: those appointments will not cross the finish line.
It took just twenty minutes of debate before Richard withdrew the nomination, but it came with little surprise to any who had been watching the situation.
A number of state senators and the Governor have been in a tense situation since Greitens used his power to appoint members to stack the board in 2017.
“It took 10 appointments before the Governor could find five appointees to do his bidding,” Sen. Gary Romine told his colleagues.
Those five, Eddy Justice, Jennifer Edwards, Doug Russell, Marvin Jungmeyer and Eric Teeman, all cast votes to oust the state commissioner Margie Vandeven.
On Tuesday, Justice’s name became the first of the five to appear on the Senate floor as Richard sought to test the waters.
Romine, as promised back in December, led the charge, stating that he was willing to stand against the appointment as long as necessary and that it was clear that these picks had been appointed for the sole purpose of firing Vandeven.
“We need to make sure that we hold accountable the actions that were taken, and when we do get five new candidates, that they will be able to do their duties independent of the Governor’s Office,” Romine said. “We’ll stand as long as it takes for this name to be removed.”
Sens. Jason Holsman and Rob Schaaf also stood in support of Romine’s promise to filibuster the pick, with Holsman discussing how one appointment, Claudia Greim, who resides in Holsman’s district, had been removed because she refused to vote for Vandeven’s firing. Holsman said he was disappointed that firing Vandeven had been part of the litmus test for potential candidates.
Justice, while being interviewed by the committee two weeks ago, said no conditions had been placed upon him by the Governor’s Office.
Sen. Ed Emery stood in defense of the appointment, saying that his impression was that Justice was an independent thinker who “continues to impress” him with his character and ability to operate in difficult situations.
The board currently lacks a quorum and has been unable to meet or take any actions. The senators opposing Greitens’ picks have called for the embattled governor to appoint a new slate of members, but so far, he has not. If the picks stay in the Senate and no action is taken, then the five will be barred from serving on the Board of Education for life, and Greitens would be in a position to again name five new appointees to serve until the next legislative session begins the appointment process once again for those new members.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.