URBANDALE, Iowa- Governor Terry Branstad today called on voters to elect a new attorney general. That is after Attorney General Tom Miller ruled recently that as Governor Branstad leaves to be an Ambassador to China, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds will assume the Governor’s job, but cannot appoint her successor.
Branstad was asked by an audience member at the West Side Conservative Club if he could fire Miller.
“We can’t fire the Attorney General, you can, I can’t,” said Branstad. “There’s an election coming up in 2018, he’s been the Attorney General since 1978, with the exception of 4 years of Bonnie Campbell,I think it’s time for a new Attorney General.”
“Despite all the rhetoric, this thoroughly researched opinion is based on the law and not politics,” said Miller in a written statement. “It’s up to Iowans to make that judgment.”
Branstad was Lt. Governor himself along with Governor Robert D. Ray. Branstad told the group back in the 80’s the Governor and Lt Governor ran on separate tickets. Branstad said his first two Lt. Governors were Bob Anderson, and Joanne Zimmerman, both Democrats.
“I think the attorney General was wrong,” said Branstad. “First of all he was right back in December when he said the Lt Governor, when the Governor resigns, becomes the Governor, then the Lt. Governor has the responsibility to appoint a Lt. Governor.”
Branstad also cited a 2009 law passed in Iowa specifying the succession of power.
“When Culver was Governor, they passed a specific law in the event of a specific vacancy in the Lt Governor’s office, the Governor appoints the Lt Governor,” said Branstad.
“The opinion is based on constitutional provisions concerning succession order, which provide that, upon a governor’s resignation, the office goes from Governor to Lieutenant Governor, to president of the Senate, and then to the Speaker of the House,“ wrote Miller. “To insert a replacement lieutenant governor would require changing that constitutional provision.”
Branstad cited examples from Utah and New York where the Lt. Governor took over as Governor, and appointed a successor, and withstood legal challenge.
“This is a very cynical effort to try to create controversy, I think it’s absolutely wrong,” said Branstad. “We need to have an AG that will represent the people of Iowa.”
“Any statute providing a replacement lieutenant governor is inconsistent with the constitutional provision and is, therefore, not legally valid,”wrote Miller. “Adding a replacement lieutenant governor takes a constitutional amendment.”