JEFFERSON CITY — Three members of the Missouri Housing Development Commission resigned Thursday in the face of strong opposition to their appointments by several state senators.
The appointments require Senate approval and the deadline was approaching. After a filibuster Wednesday night, senators were in session Thursday when the governor’s office sent an email reporting that the three had resigned.
Gov. Eric Greitens had appointed the three members, who voted in November in favor of one of the governor’s priorities — ending tax credits for low income housing. Because the appointments were made after the last legislative session, they required Senate approval in the first month of this year’s session.
If senators failed to accept the appointments Thursday, the three appointees would be banned for life from serving.
When the Senate learned of the resignation, some senators wanted to know whether the email meant that the appointees would be banned.
Missouri Constitution Article IV, Section 51 says: “If the senate fails to give its advice and consent to any appointee, that person shall not be reappointed by the governor to the same office or position.”
At a press conference after Thursday’s session, some senators expressed discontent with the way the process had gone, and gave their interpretations of the situation.
Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington said, “We did not give approval or acceptance to (the) letter of resignations ... so these folks have been banned for life.”
Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said it was a moot point whether the three were banned. “I don’t believe they’re gonna be reappointed. I don’t believe that people would actually want to be reappointed after... the silliness on these appointments... But it would end up in court if they were reappointed.”
The issue of Greitens’ appointments will surface again before the end of the session. He appointed several members of the State Board of Education, who then voted to remove the state’s education commissioner, Margie Vandeven. Critics said the new appointees were selected by the governor specifically to carry out that vote.
Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, said that with a Republican governor he had never envisioned that he’d need to fight any appointments. Schaaf has been an outspoken critic of the appointments and of Greitens.
“But I also could not envision that the governor would use his appointment ability the way he does, to dominate boards and commissions and do a lot of collateral damage along the way,” Schaaf said.
Schaaf and others said the governor was abusing the appointment process and the Senate’s role in it.
“I think what you saw today was the Senate stand up for the Senate, and you saw the governor run away from the battlefield and leave his three soldiers behind to die,” Schaaf said.