The Senate Shuffle

What would happen if Sen. Chris Dodd had won his race for the presidency?

Well, yes. The sky would be a light green and pigs would be sailing majestically through the air.

But another thing that would be happening is that Gov. Rell would get to decide who the next Senator from Connecticut would be–at least until Dodd’s term expired in 2010.

It’s unlikely that Rell would have sold Dodd’s seat to the highest bidder, as the governor of a certain other state tried to do, but it’s worth thinking about who she would pick. Rob Simmons? Nancy Johnson? Lisa Moody? Headless Horseman? Someone else?

Whoever was chosen would then represent Connecticut for two years, until Dodd’s term expired in January, 2011.

There was some talk that Connecticut would face this scenario no matter who was elected. If Obama won, many people (including myself) thought Dodd might get offered a job in the Obama Administration. If John McCain had won, I think there’s no doubt that Joe Lieberman would have had a very nice position in his Cabinet. Dodd wasn’t offered a job–perhaps in part because Rell certainly would have picked a Republican to replace him, thereby diminishing the number of seats Democrats held in the Senate (I’m sure the mortgage thing didn’t help either).

As we’ve discovered this week, that’s an awful lot of power for the governor to hold, and there’s little logical reason for governors to have that power to begin with. Maybe it’s time to do away with it, and hold a special election instead.

Rep. Tim O’Brien (D-New Britain) agrees, and intends to introduce legislation this session to do just that.

I wish him success. We don’t do things this way for House vacancies–and there’s no reason to have two different systems. Sure, special elections for the whole state may not be cheap, but they’re worth having when something as vital as our representative in the U.S. Senate is concerned.

What do you think?

Should replacement Senators be elected in special elections, or selected by the governor?
Selected by governor
Elected in special election
I don’t know
  
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13 responses to “The Senate Shuffle

  1. >>who she would pick. Rob Simmons? Nancy Johnson? Lisa Moody? Headless Horseman?

    The last time Jodi and I chatted about this very topic she made it quite clear that Headless was her 1st choice.

    The way she put it was “..he’s headless and shoulders above the rest…

    No…seriously – don’t believe it?
    Call her on her cell and ask her yourself.

  2. [quote post=”2421″]there’s no reason to have two different systems[/quote]I’m not the historian here. Perhaps someone can offer some insight on pre-1913 America? I could read my pocket constitution, but am not bothering right now. I think US Senators had been elected by the state legislatures, right?

    I think the argument was that state legislators are more knowledgable (than say John Q. Public) on various issues impacting a state.

    I think this may have also led to the name “The People’s House” which distinguished itself from the Senate because of the lack of direct vote.

    Ignoring the obvious timing issues required to schedule an election, I see no compelling reason why any Governor should have the exclusive authority to name a Senator.

    1913 also saw the creation of the Federal Reserve and the Income Tax.

  3. I think there has to be some flexibilty here. There have been instanes, deaths, etc., where Senators have been appointed for very short terms where a general election would be a waste of time and money. The appointment only lasts until the next general election. Seem there should be some minimum on the number of months left until the next election. After all, an special election in September follwed by a general in the following November is a little unnecessary. (yes I understand it has happened with House Seats in other states and would probably happen here too, but that doesn’t mean it makes sense.)
    To Tim White: I believe you are correct, but I’m not sure when or how it changed.
    I also believe that in our past Electors to the Electoral College were also chosen that way.

  4. Corruption is endemic to our system because we are too naive to think our leaders are human.

    To think that someone like a governor would seek to cash in on their power strains the persistent first grade myth that our chief executive officials are above sin – George Washington would not tell a lie. Yes, he admitted he cut down the cherry tree.

    It is easier to imagine that the officials we elect are good, decent people. And always, when we see the downfall of a powerful person, we wonder how it could’ve happened.

    We know for a fact that Gov. Rell has used her office in less than scrupulous ways – pony up, czarina. One would hope that Rell is above Blagojevich’s crass horse trading.

    This week, we got a peek at what happens behind closed doors. We should carry that vision every time we see a Governor, or a Senator, or a Congressman, and say to ourselves: this person may be capable of a Blagojevich.

    How long did Rowland carry on the charade that he was being above the board when he was lying to us? Years. And still we reelected him.

    We need to shatter the belief that the power our democracy invests in officials doesn’t corrupt, and Blagojevich should make us scrutinize even more intensely those who claim to represent our interests.

    Peace,
    KK

  5. Ken,

    “We need to shatter the belief that the power our democracy invests in officials doesn’t corrupt, and Blagojevich should make us scrutinize even more intensely those who claim to represent our interests.”

    I certainly do not buy into the logic that the power our democracy invests in officials leads to their corruption. I do totally buy into we voters need to look far deeper than we do, not just when we vote, but after we vote as well.

    I also totally buy into believing the longer these guys stay in office the more they tend to lose touch with the world the rest of us live in. To me they live in a world of deal making. They trade votes in Congress and the General Assembly for principles as a matter of everyday business. They can stab each other in the back all day, and then go out to dinner with each other at night. That is simply not natural in the real world. Sooner or latter even completely honest politicians must start to see the world differently than we do.

    I could go on and on about my feelings here but to kept it brief, I do totally agree with you we need to scrutinize much more intensely those who claim to represent our interests.

    With so many life time politicians claiming to be there to represent our interests, it would be far better for us who’s interests are being served to pay more attention. Rather than to one day wake up and ask what happened to that guy and what was accomplished that kept that lifetime politician in office all that time?

  6. AndersonScooper

    Joe Lieberman’s wife is a healthcare lobbyist for that nefarious PR outfit Hill & Knowlton. (At least she was, does anyone know whose payroll she is on today?)

    Chris Dodd’s wife runs Jackie Clegg International, getting paid who knows what for doing god knows what. Her “company”‘s former website has been scrubeed completely from the internets. And she makes six figures plus from various corporate boards, — you know, the same kind of cozy deals Blago wanted for his wife.

    Michael Rell of jet-ski fame has a job courtesy of his mother on the Republican side of the Statehouse.

    Speaker of the House Jim Amann paid his bills as a professional fundraiser?

    Etc.

    And yet, as Al points out, we the voters put up with the bullshit, most folks unknowing, and the greatest portion of the rest uncaring…

  7. Scoop… have you checked archive.org? I haven’t used the website yet. I just learned about it yesterday. It seems though that you need a URL to start your search… and even advanced search Google doesn’t give me anything (near the top of the list) when sorting by date, URL, etc.

    That’s kinda wierd, IMO. Unless Clegg International never had a website… which, in and of itself, seems odd. But I don’t know… your comment just piqued my interest.

  8. AndersonScooper

    Anyone have an idea as to how much annual income the following would total to?

    From Business Week:
    http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=2128531

    Jackie M. Clegg
    BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEMBERSHIPS

    2007-Present
    Director, Member of Audit Committee, Member of Governance Committee and Member of Market Regulation Oversight Committee
    CME Group Inc.

    2005-Present
    Director, Chairman of Nominating & Corporate Governance Committee and Member of Audit Committee
    Brookdale Senior Living Inc.

    2004-Present
    Former Director, Member of Audit Committee, Member of Corporate Governance Committee, Member of Compensation Committee and Director of IDDS
    Intrac Inc., Prior to Reverse Merger with Continental Acquisition Inc.

    2004-Present
    Director, Chairman of Audit Committee, Member of Compensation Committee, Member of Corporate Governance & Nominating Committee and Director of IDDS
    Javelin Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

    2004-Present
    Independent Director, Chairman of Corporate Governance & Nomination Committee and Member of Audit Committee
    Cardiome Pharma Corp.

    2004-Present
    Former Director, Member of Audit Committee, Member of Corporate Governance Committee, Member of Compensation Committee and Director of Innovative Drug Delivery Systems, Inc
    Intrac Inc., prior to reverse merger by Innovative Drug Delivery Systems Inc.

    2003-Present
    Director, Chairman of Audit Committee and Director of CBOT
    CBOT Holdings Inc.

    2003-Present
    Independent Director, Chairman of Nominating/Corporate Governance Committee and Member of Audit Committee
    Blockbuster Inc.

  9. 2007-Present
    Director, Member of Audit Committee, Member of Governance Committee and Member of Market Regulation Oversight Committee
    CME Group Inc.

    Directors of CME are paid an annual retainer of $25,000. There is also an annual equity stipend of $75,000, paid in stock of CME. For each board meeting, the directors earn $1,500. The subcommittee meetings also paid $1,500 per meeting. In 2007, Jackie Clegg earned $26,671 in cash compensation and an additional $28,050 in equity compensation (so I guess she joined midway through the year). Source: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1156375/000119312508059095/ddef14a.htm#toc76018_11 (see page 45-46)

    2005-Present
    Director, Chairman of Nominating & Corporate Governance Committee and Member of Audit Committee
    Brookdale Senior Living Inc.

    Jackie Clegg was paid nothing in cash for this board position in 2007, and none of the directors were paid in cash. She was, however, paid $126,558 in company stock.

    To find out how much a director of a publicly-held corporation received in compensation, go to the following website at the US Securities and Exchange Commission:

    http://www.sec.gov/edgar/searchedgar/companysearch.html

    Then type in the name of the company. You’ll usually get a list back, sometimes companies change their names slightly, so you’ll have to try a few. The companies always have a SIC code below them, ignore the other stuff.

    After you pull up all the filings of a comany, look for the latest “DEF 14A” filing, which is their annual proxy statement. When a company files this depends on when its fiscal year is, and then proxies usually get filed about 4 months after the end of the FY. Since most companies are on a December fiscal year, look for a proxy at around the end of April I guess.

    You can just type “DEF 14A” into the seach box in the upper right of the company page to get a company’s proxy filings.

    Privately-held companies are under no obligation to disclose what they pay their directors.

  10. I’ve never understood this whole thing…because Chris Dodd is a US Senator, his wife can’t be an intelligent, savvy businesswoman who makes her own money? Jackie Clegg is oft considered wildly intelligent and clearly has an impressive business sense.

    Jim Amann is allowed to have any job he wants so long as he doesn’t vote in any conflict of interest to said job. How about all the guys who work for Unions? We don’t talk about that? Didn’t Mr. Incoming-Speaker just hire a couple of Union guys and add them to his staff?

    And, seriously, when a spade is a spade that’s fine, but when a spade is a tired jet-ski story from more than ten years ago give it a break. Mike Rell grew up in a family that was involved in politics, isn’t it natural for him to make the move to that arena? If your mom could help you get a job, don’t you think she would? We have to get away from the accusatory world of who you are born to…not sure about you, but I didn’t have much of a choice in the matter.

    There’s plenty of questionable stuff to talk about on both sides of the aisle at all levels of government…but this waxing philosophical on the same old crap really does grow tired.

  11. [quote comment=”39270″]I’ve never understood this whole thing…because Chris Dodd is a US Senator, his wife can’t be an intelligent, savvy businesswoman who makes her own money? Jackie Clegg is oft considered wildly intelligent and clearly has an impressive business sense.[/quote]

    Swap out “John McCain” for “Chris Dodd” and “Cindy McCain” for “Jackie Clegg,” and I agree with you.

  12. AndersonScooper

    jbond–

    I’m sure Ms. Clegg is qualified to sit on a corporate board, but would she be sitting on so many, or any, if she wasn’t the wife of a five term United States Senator?

    Were there quid pro quo’s in any of Ms. Clegg’s appointments? Any inherent conflict of interests that we voters should be aware of?

    I’m only posting this info because it hit a note last week when Blago asked for his wife to be appointed to corporate boards. That, and I read somewhere that Mrs. Dodd is second only to Mrs. Evan Bayh in “earning” fees and stock options. (Mrs. Bayh brought in $800,000 last year.)

    The point is many of our politicians are in it for themselves, not hesitating to cash in for the enrichment of themselves, friends and family.

    Not the end of the world, but if the Dodds are garnering $500,000/year in director’s fees and stock options, it should be out in the light and on the record.

  13. Is she a CPA? She’s on lots of Audit Committees. And not that one would need to be a CPA, but it would make sense to me.

    Considering how big SOX got to be… did any regulators offer any guidance on Board membership resumes, particularly for Audit Committees? I know there’s supposed to be more independence.

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