Monday, November 26, 2007

UPDATE on the Lott Retirement

This isn't from me, I've been buried in my work for hours. however, i did pull this for you guys from the Daily Kos. If you didn't know already, Haley Barbour was already trying to put off new elections so he could appoint his pet monkey. in this case, he even (purposefully?) mis-states the law as he announces his plan. too bad that statutes don't agree...

MS-Sen: Barbour's efforts to rewrite state law

by kos

Mon Nov 26, 2007 at 01:58:54 PM PST

Mississippi Republicans are in a bind.

First, Lott wants out by the end of this year so new ethics guidelines that prohibit former members of Congress from lobbying for two years, rather than one. And we all know that Lott is ditching the people of Mississippi so he can cash in on K Street. He admitted it.

So Lott needs to be out by Dec. 31. However, if he does that, Mississippi law requires a special election within 90 days, and a low-turnout special might hurt the GOP. They want the presidential race to boost Republican turnout in a state that leans heavily Republican in presidential elections.

So what will win, Lott's desire to cash out ASAP, or the GOP's desire to maximize their possibilities of holding that seat? Well, if you're a Republican, there's always option 3: lie and obfuscate the law and try to pull a fast one on everyone else:

Pursuant to Mississippi law, specifically § 23-15-855 (1), of the Mississippi Code, once the resignation takes effect, I will call a Special Election for United States Senator to be held on November 4, 2008, being the regular general election day for the 2008 congressional elections.

Further, within ten days of Senator Lott’s resignation’s taking effect, I will appoint a Senator to serve until the winner of the Special Election for United States Senator is elected and commissioned, as provided in § 23-15-855 (2) of the Mississippi Code. My goal is to appoint the best qualified person who can do the most for our state and country.

Ha ha ha, that Haley. Such a joker. The law:

(1) If a vacancy shall occur in the office of United States Senator from Mississippi by death, resignation or otherwise, the Governor shall, within ten (10) days after receiving official notice of such vacancy, issue his proclamation for an election to be held... within ninety (90) days from the time the proclamation is issued and the returns of such election shall be certified to the Governor in the manner set out above for regular elections, unless the vacancy shall occur in a year that there shall be held a general state or congressional election, in which event the Governor's proclamation shall designate the general election day as the time for electing a Senator, and the vacancy shall be filled by appointment as hereinafter provided.

You get that? The law essentially mandates a special election within 100 days of the retirement. Barbour is trying to argue that the key point is the "proclamation", not the date the vacancy occurs. As election law expert Rick Hasen notes:

[T]he key question is the date of the "vacancy," not the date of the official notice or the date of the proclamation of the special election. If Lott indeed resigns in 2007, the vacancy is in 2007 and the election must occur under the 10/90 day rule described above.

And the Hill reports that MS's secretary of state (a Democrat, until the winners of the 2007 elections get sworn in later in January) agrees.

Gov. Haley Barbour (R) said in a statement Monday that he would schedule the special election for the same day as the November 2008 general election. State law, however, appears to require an earlier date if Lott retires this year, as he said he would.

While Lott sneaks in under the wire for the extended ban on lobbying Congress by retiring this year, the secretary of state’s office said Monday that state law appears to require a special election within 90 days if he does so.

Conversely, if Lott were to wait and retire in 2008, the law allows for the special election to be held the same day as the general. Of course, he would then be subject to the new two-year ban on lobbying his former colleagues, instead of the current one-year ban.

Lott will have a choice to make -- suck it up and wait an extra year before cashing out on K Street, or screw his party over one last time. And if Barbour persists on trying to rewrite state law, he'll have to likely justify his efforts in a court of law.

Update: Email press release:

JACKSON (Monday, Nov. 26, 2007) –Wayne Dowdy, chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party, issued the following statement after U.S. Sen. Trent Lott announced plans to resign from office by the end of the year.

“According to multiple news reports, Senator Lott intends to resign his seat by the end of the year. Section 23-15-855 (1) of the Mississippi Code makes clear that if Senator Lott does indeed resign during this calendar year, as stated, then Governor Barbour must call a special election for within 90 days of making a proclamation – which he must issue within 10 days of the resignation – and not on Nov. 4, 2008, as he has announced he intends to do.

“We will wait for Senator Lott’s official notice of resignation, when he will undoubtedly announce the exact date he will leave office. But if he does resign this calendar year we expect the governor to uphold the law and call a special election within 100 days. It is important that Mississippi be represented in Washington by a senator who was elected by the state’s voters as soon as possible.”

Race tracker wiki: MS-Sen

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