I’ve already said plenty about Senate President Pro Tem Michael Lamoureux’s pre-emption of the office of lieutenant governor and his fiat that the $267,000 Gang of Four will continue to be employed at his direction, though still having nothing to do.
But I can add that Democrats in the legislature, not just Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, have expressed objections to Lamoureux at his decision, supported by no law or constitutional provision. Lamoureux is relying on the opinion of a lawyer who works for him, Senate counsel Steve Cook. “Whatever you say, boss man.”
A Democratic legislator predicts, as a response, legislation in the fiscal session next week to reduce the appropriation for the office for the remainder of this fiscal year, which ends June 30, and an appropriation for the next fiscal year of half what normally would be allotted.
That should be an interesting debate. Do the budget hawks in the Republican Party demand continued on-the-job full severance pay for people without anybody to work for, but with solid gold Republican ties, including in the case of the highest paid employee, a son-in-law, Rep. Duncan Baird, in charge of Joint Budget? (Lamoureux doesn’t count as somebody for an already inflated staff to work for; he already had ample Senate staff for his needs — see compliant counsel Steve Cook.)
Best reader comment of the night last night on Lamoureux’s action:
“Jerry Jewell meets Alexander Haig.”
Jewell was the senator who took some rash executive clemency actions when Gov. Jim Guy Tucker stepped out of town during a period when Arkansas was without a lieutenant governor. Alexander Haig was famously in control at the White House after the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan. Poor judgment and excessive self-inflation fit with current Lamoureux events, if on a smaller stage.