The Ethics of Appointments
As long-time readers know, my political history has sided with those who prefer more transparency in government, better ethical policies, and no legacy appointments. In SG parlance, that made me an “independent”.
I have not, until now, blogged at any length, about the real-world appointment-bonanza of late, that of governors appointing replacement senators. I do not oppose, in principle, the idea that governors should help fill the void of senate vacancies without the need of a special election. I think in some states even requiring that the outgoing senator’s party ID match the replacement’s has merit (but maybe be problematic if, say, an Independent Senator were to resign/die in office). On this latter point, I think limits and guidelines are good. You would hope that the Senator is connected to the community, has a record of public service, and is among the best and brightest in the state – even if he or she is not well known to the political and national press corps.
However, news like this needs to end. Senator Gregg is trying to coerce a legal action out of the Governor of New Hampshire that is more to his liking (a replacement Senator who is a Republican instead of a Democrat), with the threat of denying the Governor the chance to make the appointment.
This touches the same general ethical boundary that Blago hit when he talked to his staff about trying to profit (personally or politically) from the Obama seat.
In both cases, someone with power is trying to force someone else to do as they say. In Blago’s case, he wanted money in exchange for the appointment going your way. In Gregg’s case, he’ll vacate the Senate seat in exchange for the appointment going his way.
How is Gregg’s actions legal and Blago’s weren’t?
It’s crap like this that makes me cynical about politics.