As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Paul Kirk In As Mass. Senator - Friend To Kennedys, Corporate America?

Deval Patrick picked former DNC Chair Paul Kirk to fill the seat vacated by the late Ted Kennedy today, as expected. I stand by my earlier statement that Kirk will fall in line behind the party leadership and vote meekly and quietly for the next few months until the replacement is chosen in a special election. But this is kind of worrisome:

Kirk, 71, is a Boston attorney who also has been a registered lobbyist for pharmaceutical companies. He sits on the board of Hartford Financial Services, known colloquially as "The Hartford." It sells life and property insurance [...]

Federal records show Kirk registered as a lobbyist a decade ago. While Kirk would be banned from lobbying for two years after his appointment ends, he would retain Senate floor privileges, the honorific title "senator" and a coveted Capitol Hill parking space for life.

The Sunlight Foundation has lots more on Kirk's corporate connections. There are companies on the board of directors of which he sits which are currently lobbying Congress on matters related to health care reform, climate change, and financial regulatory reform.

Again, he'll fall in line, but the level of corporate capture in the highest echelons of the Democratic Party is astounding. I'm not surprised at the existence, just the scope.

Meanwhile, the legal issues behind this bill look fishy.

The Massachusetts Republican Party urged Secretary of State William F. Galvin to reject Patrick's request to make the legislation effective immediately, saying prior decisions by the Supreme Judicial Court showed the governor's power applied only when a law is subject to a public referendum. The party asked Galvin to at least seek an advisory opinion from the court [...]

Patrick has argued the state stood to suffer without full Senate representation before the special election campaign, but some fellow Democrats have joined Republicans in accusing him of a power grab.

"This is not an emergency," said Rep. Paul Frost, R-Auburn. "So however the governor is going to write a letter to the secretary of state, saying the Legislature didn't agree it was an emergency, but I do, I can't wait to see it."

I think this is generally good law and a model for how other states should approach Senate vacancies, but the Republicans could certainly try to hold this up under the emergency standard, and they may find a sympathetic ear in the courts.

...The Massachusetts GOP is seeking an injunction, based on the emergency standard. So far, no word from the courts.

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