Transition leaves 125 gubernatorial appointments in limbo |

Transition leaves 125 gubernatorial appointments in limbo

DENVER ” Senate leaders have informed Gov. Bill Ritter that 125 people appointed by former Gov. Bill Owens to state boards and commissions were left in limbo by the transition to the new administration this month and may have to reapply if they want to remain on those panels.

The issue arose after Democrats and environmentalists discovered that Owens had reappointed three people to the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission. Their terms weren’t set to expire until Wednesday, three weeks after he left office.

Evan Dreyer, spokesman for the new Democratic governor, Bill Ritter, said it’s up to Ritter to decide if he wants to keep those appointments or make new ones.

“We’re taking a look at all of them, not because we have an agenda but because we want the new directors to review them. Gov. Owens’ nominations have not been confirmed and we have an opportunity to review this,” Dreyer said.

Dreyer said many of the names Owens submitted could be renominated, but he said the new governor wanted to have a say on whose names are forwarded to the Senate for confirmation.

The list includes a few well-known Republicans, including Bruce Benson, a GOP activist and former chairman of the Colorado Republican Party who was reappointed by Owens to the Metropolitan State College Board of Trustees. It also includes former state Reps. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, and Don Lee, R-Littleton, who were appointed to the Charter School Institute Board.

Only 28 Democrats were on the list.

The appointments were all made after the 2006 Legislature adjourned in May.

Democrats who control the Senate said Ritter should make his own decisions.

“I think we have an obligation to honor Bill Ritter’s appointments since his swearing-in. Some of the appointments that Bill Owens made ranged far beyond his term. Appointments are the prerogative of the sitting governor, and we’re going to honor that,” said Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Golden.

Except for the three air quality appointees, the terms of all of the other board and commission members expired before Owens left office earlier this month.

Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany, R-Colorado Springs, objected to the Democrats’ decision to put a blanket hold on the nominations.

“I would think that if the (new) governor’s got a problem with a nominee, that he would state that and withdraw that name,” McElhany said. “But just to say, ‘I’m going to wipe out all these people who volunteered to serve our state,’ is inappropriate.”

When Owens took over eight years ago, he sent a series of letters to the Senate withdrawing specific nominees before the Senate had a chance to schedule confirmation hearings, and replaced them with his own picks after he replaced Democratic Gov. Roy Romer.

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