News Story

Appointments: A Rarely Recognized Gubernatorial Power

Which can have major effects

Gov. Snyder has been somewhat savvy with his appointments.

There is generally little recognition of how many appointments to boards, commissions and other governmental bodies a governor has authority to make, or how many members of such bodies a governor could remove. Some of these boards and panels are trifling, while others wield considerable power.

Gov. Rick Snyder exercised his authority over the Michigan Quality Community Care Council (MQC3) – the dummy employer used for the forced unionization of Michigan’s home-based caregivers – when he replaced all of its members on the eve of the 2012 election. This was the action that finally led to the end of the SEIU healthcare dues skim.

Governors also make appointments to the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC). It was MERC, under former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, that gave its approval to what later became known as the dues skim. This year, MERC is expected to decide whether or not to uphold an administration law judge’s decision that said the MEA’s August Window is illegal.

With several of the commissions and boards for which a governor makes appointments, there is a brief period during which the Senate could reject them. Former Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop made a concerted and well-publicized effort to actively contest some of former Gov. Granholm’s appointments, but this ultimately had little impact. It appears unlikely that prior to Gov. Granholm making appointments to MERC the Senate could have anticipated the dues skim. There is reason to believe few lawmakers were aware of it, let alone its scope and the details involved, until it was unearthed by the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation.

“Not many people are aware of it, but a governor’s authority to make appointments to the various boards and commissions is very important,” said John Truscott, of Truscott Rossman, who was press secretary for former Gov. John Engler. “Many of them aren’t that significant, but others, for example the Transportation Commission and the Civil Service Commission, are.

“One of the amazing things that happened when Gov. Engler defeated James Blanchard, was that Blanchard had left a couple of thousand appointments unfilled,” Truscott continued. “Obviously, as a governor, you want as many of your people to fill these positions as possible.”

Inside Michigan Politics founder Bill Ballenger told Capitol Confidential that he has unique perspective on gubernatorial appointments in Michigan.

“At one time I was in charge of appointments for former Gov. William Milliken,” Ballenger said. “You’re right. Very few people know that there are literally hundreds of these boards and commissions. Many of the appointments are to unpaid positions. At one time governors used appointments as patronage but there have been a lot of reforms since then.

“Interest groups, such as labor and so on, try to get their people appointed to the various positions,” Ballenger added. “At Inside Michigan Politics we took a look at how different governors handled appointments. We found that Blanchard was terrible, Engler was great, Granholm was better than Blanchard and Snyder has been somewhat better than Granholm.”

The list of boards, commissions and other bodies to which a governor makes appointments is extensive.


See also:

SEIU Dues Skim Finally Grounds to a Halt