Jack Jodell of the so-called Moderate Voice has written a ludicrous screed attacking Pawlenty. I plan to address more of it in the next few days, but for now, I’ll focus on Jodell’s bizarre contention that Pawlenty is somehow abandoning his duties as Governor by traveling out of state. He writes:
[Pawlenty] is now galavanting all across the country making speeches and appearing in support of conservative Republican candidates everywhere in a Nixonesque attempt to build party support for his own 2012 presidential candidacy. In the process, he has abandoned his responsibilites as Chief Executive of his own state in the best Sarah Palin tradition, the only difference being he has not officially resigned his post.
What are we supposed to make of this charge? First of all, Jodell seems to have an almost unfathomable understanding of the duties of a Governor. Minnesota statute forbids the state legislature to work for more than 120 days in a biennium. Here’s the relevant bit from the official website:
The state constitution limits the Legislature to meeting 120 legislative days during each biennium. In addition, the Legislature may not meet in regular session after the first Monday following the third Saturday in May of any year (for constitutional provisions concerning the length of session and special sessions, see Minnesota Constitution, Article IV – Legislative Department).
The third Saturday in May. By my count, the regular session of the legislature was constitutionally obligated to end over 4 months ago. To go past that date, Pawlenty would have had to call a special session. When are Governors meant to call special sessions? Well, according to Article IV, section 12, of the Minnesota State Constitution, only on “extraordinary occasions”.
The state legislature website elaborates on the two reasons Governors typically call such sessions:
The legislature has not completed work on vital legislation during the time allowed for the regular session.
Changed circumstances require urgent legislative action after the regular session ends
After Pawlenty’s decision to un-allot, neither of these scenarios applied. Does Jack Jodell expect Pawlenty to proclaim an “extraordinary occasion” during an ordinary occasion? If not, it’s hard to know what he’s getting at. Let’s take a look at the Pawlenty trips MPR outlined (which I addressed in a post last week). They have 19 events listed and not one of them occurred during the 2009 legislative session. Only 4 of those 19 were personal-trips which occurred on a weekday (bolded). The remainder were weekend trips Pawlenty would have been justified taking even during a legislative session. Here’s the list:
September 26, 2009 (Saturday)- Mackinac Island Michigan
October 2, 2009 (Friday)- Rapid City, South Dakota
July 2-3, 2009 (Thursday and Friday)- Aspen, Colorado
July 24, 2009 (Friday)- Hudson, Wisconsin (state related trip)
August 14, 2009 (Friday)- Chicago, Illinois
July 8, 2009 (Wednesday)- Nashville, Tennessee (state related trip)
September 12, 2009 (Saturday)- Orlando, Florida
August 22, 2009 (Saturday)- Orlando, Florida
July 30, 2009 (Thursday)- San Diego, California
October 16, 2009 (Friday)- Newport Beach, California
June 26, 2009 (Friday)- Little Rock, Arkansas
September 9, 2009 (Wednesday)- Richmond, Virginia
June 5, 2009 (Friday)- Washington, D.C.
September 18, 2009 (Friday)- Washington, D.C.
August 4-5, 2009 (Tuesday and Wednesday)- Washington, D.C. (state related trip)
June 29-30, 2009 (Monday and Tuesday)- Washington D.C. (state related trip)
September 3, 2009 (Thursday)- Hackensack, NJ
September 19, 2009 (Saturday)- Mason, Ohio
August 15, 2009 (Saturday)- Guanaybo, Puerto Rico
Now, let’s compare this to a certain former Freshman Illinois Senator. Where was Obama in 2005 (the equivalent year in the 2008 cycle)? Well, it’s hard to pin down all the specific dates, but it’s clear he WASN’T in Illinois or Washington every weekend. Here’s a bit from a late 2005 profile on Obama:
Sundays once were sacred in the Obama house, the day for school activities and reading, movies and catching up on writing in the family journal. But in the final months of the year, Obama’s political schedule began filling up, much to the chagrin of his wife.
“The hope is that that is going to change and we’re going to go back to our normal schedule of keeping Sundays pretty sacred,” she said, turning away from her interviewer and directly toward Robert Gibbs, the senator’s communications director, who helps dictate Obama’s schedule.
Here are other miscellaneous events Obama attended, out of state, that year.
Arizona: He keynoted an Arizona Democratic Party event that raked in $1 million.
Florida: December 2005 (Dinner speaker at State Convention)
Nebraska: November 2005 (Delivered a speech in Warren Buffet’s living room)
New Jersey: November 2005 (Campaigned for Corzine at multiple events)
New Jersey: March 2005 (Attended fundraiser for Lautenberg)
California: March 2005 (Met with and spoke with supporters in Los Angeles and Beverley Hills)
Massachusetts: Fall 2005 (Harvard Law School Reunion)
At least 2 of these trips occurred DURING the 2005 legislative session, when Obama had immediate duties. Where was Jack Jodell condemning Obama’s country-hopping less than a year into his first term as Senator?
To be sure, Governors have duties outside of the regular legislative session. But, as best as I can tell, they have no official constitutional or statutory duties that can’t be dealt with at the Governor’s convenience. Jack Jodell is clearly out of his depth.