One of Missouri’s legal minds that provided the counsel that the governor could appoint the lieutenant governor offered some insight into opinion.
On This Week in Missouri Politics, Lowell Pearson said the constitution of Missouri gives the governor the authority.
“It’s really pretty simple, I think. The constitution says the governor has the authority to fill vacancies unless otherwise provided by law,” said Pearson. “We start with the fact that the constitution clearly gives this authority to the governor. Now, the General Assembly can remove that authority, and in some cases they have, but in my view, they have to do that with a clear and unambiguous statement.”
The issue of whether or not the governor can appoint a lieutenant governor came to a head in recent weeks.
Eric Greitens resigned as Missouri’s Governor on June 1 and Mike Parson, the then-lieutenant governor, stepped up to fill the position. That transition left the number two spot in Missouri’s political leadership open.
The attorney’s advising the now-Gov. Parson led him to appoint Sen. Mike Kehoe to the position he previously occupied.
Not all in politics agreed that the governor has the power.
“There is a statute that some people talk about that they think is clear enough but I disagree. In my view the legislature has to do that clearly and plainly, not with an inference or a guess,” said Pearson. “So, that’s the basis analysis that I’ve been relying on.”
Within 24 hours of Kehoe’s appointment, the Missouri Democratic Party filed a lawsuit alleging the governor doesn’t have the authority to do so.
Pearson said that the lawsuit should be dismissed immediately because, in his opinion, there’s no standing for that lawsuit to be brought
“Actually I think the law here is even clearer than the law as to the governor’s authority and the only mechanism in my view by which the lieutenant governor could be removed is impeachment. The only other possibility and I don’t think it is correct, but I will mention it, is the motion that the attorney general or the prosecuting attorney in Cole County could possibly seek to remove the lieutenant governor by what’s called a quo warranto action…lawyers speak for a pretty simple concept, which is only the attorney general or a prosecuting attorney can seek to remove someone from office, but I don’t think that applies here.
“I think the sole remedy a statewide official is impeachment.”
Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at email@example.com.