Sid Salter, Thursday, April 29, 1999
The Mississippi Constitution stipulates the "advice and consent of the Senate" in confirming gubernatorial appointments not the "advice and consent of John Horhn."
State Sen. John Horhn of Jackson with the tacit approval and encouragement of Lt. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove sees gubernatorial appointments as if he has been imbued with some special constitutional authority that makes him a committee even an entire State Senate of one.
A cursory reading of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 makes clear that Horhn and Musgrove are using the authority of Senate committee system tradition rather than the authority of constitutional law to allow Horhn to put a political whipping on Gov. Kirk Fordice.
The result is a denial of due constitutional process both to Mississippi Workers Compensation Commission chairman-designate Mike Marsh of Brandon and Fordice along with a denial of common courtesy to the balance of the state Senate and the taxpayers of Mississippi.
And then, of course, there's the matter of Lt. Gov. Musgrove standing before the electorate that chose him carrying Horhn's partisan water as a procedural weakling and a political cuckold.
Yet in the midst of this tawdry little affair, Horhn has finally set himself up for the kind of examination he claims to have given Marsh before retreating into the politics of rank hypocrisy and the feeble play of the race card in a matter that clearly hinges on nothing more or less than sleazy, backroom politics.
And more than that, Horhn finally slipped up and told a little truth about his handling of Marsh's nomination.
"Over the course of the past few weeks, I have been second-guessed, demonized and condemned by Gov. Fordice and elements within the business community because I chose not to confirm a gentlemen, Albert P. "Mike" Marsh, to the Workers Compensation Commission," Horhn wrote in a newspaper article.
Notice Mr. Horhn didn't say the Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Parks Committee, or any subcommittee thereof, decided not to confirm Marsh. He didn't say the State Senate decided not to confirm Marsh.
"The decision not to confirm Marsh was mine and mine alone," Horhn wrote.
Glad we got that point out of the way, senator.
The Mississippi Constitution just simply doesn't afford one Senate committee chairman that kind of power - the power to supersede consideration by the Senate of a governor's appointee through the refusal of one senator to allow the Senate to perform the duties of "advice and consent."
In defending his indefensible behavior in denying the state Senate the opportunity to vote Gov. Kirk Fordice's appointment of Marsh as the chairman and employers' representative on the three-member Mississippi Workers Compensation Commission, Horhn in a Sunday, April 25 article he penned for The Clarion-Ledger has accused Fordice, and those supporting the notion that gubernatorial nominees deserve an up-or-down vote from the state Senate, of racism. He also suggested that his decision to deny Marsh even an opportunity to be confirmed or rejected by the state Senate was founded on the "adverse findings" regarding Marsh that allegedly surfaced in background reports.
What a crock, Sen. Horhn. What a crock.
Mike Marsh's alleged "sins" involved the fact that he had previously had some tax liens and that he committed a weapons violations as a youth in Texas. He was found in possession of a pistol he used to shoot jackrabbits.
The tax liens were satisfied. Having tax liens against one's property isn't a crime. Failing to satisfy those liens is a crime, but Marsh didn't do that. He made them good. Mike Marsh is a fine businessman who understands the struggles small businessmen and businesswomen face each day in the workplace. That's why he'd bring a good pro-business balance to the Workers Compensation Commission.
Since Sen. Horhn is so concerned about background checks and safeguarding the taxpayers, one wonders why he didn't exercise some of his apparently "special" legislative powers to stop the $12 million Magnolia Venture debacle a matter that should have been reviewed carefully by the Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Parks Committee.
And in terms of race, since Horhn likes to point out "interesting" matters about government officials of "a darker hue"(his words, not mine), where was Horhn when it was revealed that State College Board member James Luevene was involved in serious child support irregularities?
Somehow, a lack of government accountability in the Magnolia Venture scandal and the outrageous behavior of a black college board member escaped the careful eye of the brave government watchdog John Horhn, but you let a guy accrue a satisfied tax lien and a jackrabbit pistol and you've got some real trouble.
The bottom line: Fordice has the right to make the appointment of Marsh. The Senate has the constitutional duty in "advice and consent" to vote the nominee up or down. Horhn is holding the nomination of Marsh in a political hostage crisis and Musgrove is fiddling while the crisis burns.
Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist and editor of the Scott County Times in Forest. His address is Box 89, Forest, MS 39074. His e-mail address is salternews @ AOL.com.