Twice in recent months, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’s consulted constitutional law experts on his Judiciary Committee staff about Iowa’s office of lieutenant governor.
Grassley says he was simply curious about how the vacancy would be filled should Iowa’s current Governor Terry Branstad be confirmed as the U.S. Ambassador to China and resign from the state’s top post.
Grassley says, “Whenever it was suggested that he would be ambassador, I thought to myself, ‘How do we fill the lieutenant governor’s position?’ and I asked the lawyers on my staff to look at it.” Back in December, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced that should Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds become governor, she -would- be able to appoint a lieutenant. Grassley’s staff agreed.
“I had them explain it to me last January when there wasn’t any controversy about it,” Grassley says, “in fact, at that time, Attorney General Miller had said that it could be filled.” On Monday, Miller reversed his previous statement and now says Reynolds would -not- have the authority to appoint a lieutenant governor. That prompted Grassley to send his staff back to do more research.
Grassley says, “They said yesterday that they looked at it a second time and there wasn’t any reason for us to change what we found out back in January.” Reynolds, a Republican, suggests Miller, a Democrat, is playing “political games.” Iowa’s secretary of state issued a statement Monday saying it is his “position” Reynolds has the authority to name a lieutenant governor once she takes over as governor.
Here’s the statement Grassley released Monday afternoon:
“Last December and today, I asked constitutional lawyers on the Judiciary Committee staff about the question. They agreed with the Iowa attorney general’s conclusion last December. Kim Reynolds will have the authority as governor to appoint a lieutenant governor. When prior vacancies occurred, no new lieutenant governor was appointed but the law has changed since the last time this occurred clarifying the appointment authority of the governor.”