Blunt pulls Foster's nomination

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- In one of his first acts in office Monday, Gov. Matt Blunt pulled his predecessor's appointment of Bill Foster, a former Southeast Missouri lawmaker, to the Missouri Labor and Industrial Relations Commission.

Foster, R-Poplar Bluff, stepped down from his Senate seat four months early after then-governor Bob Holden, a Democrat, named him to the post in September. The labor commission has proved a source of controversy in recent months because of a revolving door on the three-member panel. Members receive a lucrative salary and can take advantage of a unique pension system that provides generous retirement benefits even for a brief stint of service.

Blunt, a Republican, withdrew a total of 101 Holden appointments that were awaiting Senate confirmation. Holden made the appointments to a variety of state boards while the Senate was in recess. His nominees, including Foster, had been serving in the positions to which they were named pending confirmation.

Standard procedure

Paul Sloca, a spokesman for Blunt's transition team, said it is standard procedure for a new governor to withdraw nominations that have not been acted on. It is possible, Sloca said, that in some instances Blunt could resubmit to the Senate some of Holden's appointments.

"This is just a chance for Gov. Blunt to step back and review these," Sloca said. "Obviously, this is a new administration, and we want to take a look at these before proceeding."

Sloca couldn't say if Blunt is considering reappointing Foster to the labor commission. Foster attended Blunt's inauguration ceremony Monday but could not be reached for comment later.

As a labor commissioner, Foster received an annual salary of $94,029 -- nearly triple his legislative pay. Even though he served on the panel only four months, his state pension jumps to $47,615 a year once he is eligible to receive it in five years. Had he not joined the commission, Foster's pension would have been just $18,288 a year, but he would have been able to collect beginning this year.

The commission is an administrative appeals panel that reviews cases involving financial benefits for workers injured on the job, the unemployed and crime victims.

mpowers@semissourian.com

(573) 635-4608

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