Rumor Mill: Jim Murry favorite for CPP spot

Rumor has it that Gov. Brian Schweitzer wants to appoint longtime labor leader Jim Murry as the next commissioner of political practices. Murry was executive secretary of the Montana AFL-CIO from 1969-1991.

The governor’s office did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment yesterday. However, I’ve been told the governor’s office wants the two Democrats on the panel – Senate Minority Leader Carol Williams  and House Minority Leader Jon Sesso – to nominate Murry to replace former commissioner Dave Gallik, who resigned last month amid allegations he misused his state office for private business.

Schweitzer doesn’t have to choose from the list of nominees he gets from the four-member, bi-partisan panel made up of Republican and Democratic legislative leaders. He can appoint anyone he wants to the position.

Whomever Schweitzer appoints will presumably hold the post at least until the Legislature convenes in January 2013. If Republicans control the Senate in the next session, Schweitzer’s appointee could face a tough confirmation process. Republicans blocked former commissioner Jennifer Hensley’s confirmation earlier this  year, leading to Gallik’s appointment. 

The State Administration and Veterans’ Affairs committee will hold a conference call Thursday morning – just prior to when commissioner of political practices selection committee is scheduled to meet – to discuss Peterson’s request that the committee ask the Department of Administration to not delete any files from Gallik’s computer.

Murry’s appointment – if it happens – would likely irk already irritated Republicans. There are rumblings that if the GOP isn’t satisfied with Schweitzer’s appointment they’ll consider attempting to call themselves into special session. Regardless of what happens, the political drama surrounding the Office of the Commissioner of Political Practices is likely to drag on into the 2012 election season.