Curator nomination party affiliation questioned
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Curator nomination party affiliation questioned

Date: January 22, 2007
By: Tina Marie Macias
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Another curator's nomination to the UM System Board of Curators is causing controversy in the Missouri Senate, because of her party affiliation, or question thereof.

At least one Senate Democrat has questioned Judy Haggard's, a nurse practitioner from Kennett, allegiance to the Democratic party.

Haggard was appointed by Gov. Matt Blunt to fill a democratic seat on the nine-person governing board.

According to the Federal Election Commission Web site, Haggard has donated more than $1,500 to republicans in the past 10 years -- $1,000 to former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent's campaign in November and $525 to U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson in 1997.

Blunt's spokeswoman, Jessica Robinson, said although Haggard has contributed funds to the Republican party, she has told the governor that she is a "bootheel democrat."

"She had demonstrated to us that she's a Democrat and has said that her vote often cancels out her husband's," Robinson said.

Haggard's husband, David Haggard, is a active republican, who has helped other Republicans win elections.

Rob Mayer, R-Butler County, is sponsoring Haggard and said she told him that she has supported Democrats, as well as Republicans, and noted that curators are often bipartisan.

Blunt appointed Haggard to the Board of Curators on Dec. 29. Because Haggard was named when the legislature was not in session, her appointment took effect immediately. Continuation on the board, however, is subject to Senate confirmation. She will go before the Gubernatorial Appointments Committee Wednesday morning. If approved, she and another nominee will then go before the full Senate on Thursday.

The curators exercise near total authority over the UM System, its budget and top administrative staff.

Warren Erdman of Kansas City and Bo Fraser of Columbia were also appointed last month. The Senate confirmed Erdman early Friday morning after a 17-hour, one-man filibuster in protest of him. No one has spoken out against Fraser, but his confirmation was put on hold after doubts arose about Haggard.

Mayer said he has received a few e-mails asking him to drop his support of Haggard, but will remain behind her. He added that Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, has told him that he does not support Haggard.

Graham was unavailable for comment Monday, but his Chief of Staff, Ted Farnen, said Graham is not the only one have questioned Haggard's appointment. Farnen added that he is confident that Haggard will be approved in the Gubernatorial Appointments Committee tomorrow, but could not speak on what will happen when she goes before the whole Senate on Thursday.

"We'll have to wait to see what happens in Senate," he said.

Haggard could not be reached for comment Monday. However, in an interview with the Missourian on Thursday she said she identifies herself as a Democrat, but has never been a part of a Republican or Democratic committee.

"I hope that being appointed a curator is not a partisan thing," she said. "It's more for people who have a passion for the university."