Two curators approved despite controversy
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Two curators approved despite controversy

Date: January 25, 2007
By: Sarah D. Wire
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - An expected Senate fight over another MU curator nomination ended peacefully and successfully in Missouri's Senate Thursday.

The Senate confirmed Judith Haggard -- a curator nominee who had been nominated as a Democrat, but whose has been connected with several large contributions to Republican candidates.

Under Missouri law many boards and commissions such as the Board of Curators can not be dominated by a single political party. The nine-member Board of Curators can have no more than five of its members from any one political party.  Currently, the board is composed of five Republicans and four Democrats.

Haggard's nomination had been questions by Democrats because of the donations she or her husband had made to Republicans at the state and federal level. This includes $2,900 over three years donated by the Haggard Farm to "Missourians for Matt Blunt."

"I think a lot of their opposition to her is her husband," said Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Stoddard, who sponsored Haggard's nomination ."This is 2007... she is a free woman, and an independent thinker."

Haggard's husband, David Haggard, has donated  to "Missourians for Matt Blunt" and several other Republican's at the national level.

Senate Democratic Leader Maida Coleman, D-St. Louis, initially was opposed to the nomination and said Haggard has not been very active in the local Democratic party or been involved in organizing party events.

"Really all we have is her word that she is a Democrat," Coleman said.

During Thursday's Senate session, Coleman read e-mails and letters her office received from former senators, judges and current members of Haggard's local Democratic party who held reservations that Haggard is a Democrat.

In the end, however, Democrats did not filibuster the nomination that was approved by a voice vote.

Sen. Chuck Graham, D- Columbia, said the problem with Haggard was tied to the governor appointing someone without a strong party background to a partisan position.Graham said the lengthy discussion that proceeded Haggard's approval by the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee could have been avoided if the governor had taken more consideration in his choice.

Graham said he hopes the governor's office paid attention to the difficulties the appointments committee faced in approving Haggard and the other nominee.

"The governor's office dumped this problem into the lap of the Senate," Graham said.

Coleman agreed and said the committee's discussion should be a message to the governor to take more consideration into his choices. Coleman said she does not want the Senate to fight about appointments all session.

The governor's spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Graham spoke positively about the other Curator nominee approved Thursday, Columbia Banker Bo Fraser, even though Fraser had been nominated as a Republican.  "I may consider legislation to remove the partisanship because the people involved with the Board of Curators just want to serve," Graham said.