Nixon nominees for UM curators still waiting

Finding new system president one task awaiting board

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A pair of prospective University of Missouri curators continues to await lawmaker approval of their nominations nearly three months after Gov. Jay Nixon first submitted their names for consideration.

Columbia attorney Craig Van Matre was nominated in late January to fill a vacancy on the University of Missouri Board of Curators created in November 2010 by board member Bo Fraser’s resignation. Cassville attorney Don Cupps was nominated by Nixon on the same day and is also waiting for confirmation.

The two curator hopefuls are among eight appointees to state boards and commissions whose nominations have yet to be scheduled for confirmation hearings. Another five nominees — all but one whose name was put forth after the two curator prospects — face legislative hearings in the next two weeks. And two more nominees have been approved by the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee but are in limbo due to objections by senators.

Van Matre said he’s uncertain why his nomination has not yet been considered.

“I have made lots of inquiries,” he said. “I am anxious to get started because there are a bunch of key issues, and I can’t make a contribution without confirmation.”

Those issues include the search for a new University of Missouri system president to replace Gary Forsee, who resigned in early January to care for his ill wife.

St. Louis businessman David Steward, Nixon’s third recent nominee to the ninemember Board of Curators, was confirmed by the Senate last week. Steward is a Republican; Van Matre and Cupps are Democrats.

Van Matre said he has asked the office of Sen. Rob Mayer, chairman of the appointments committee, when he can expect his confirmation hearing to take place but wasn’t given a date.

“I was told there are other issues and it will happen in due course,” he said.

Mayer suggested after Steward’s hearing that legislative maneuvering is behind the delays, noting that holding up nominations can be “a big leverage we can use to get the governor to sit down and talk on issues,” in part because the Democratic governor generally does not reveal how he stands on individual items on the agenda of the Republicancontrolled Legislature

In a subsequent interview, Mayer said no specific concessions are being sought from Nixon in order to clear Van Matre, Cupps or any other nominees for confirmation.

“I am not aware of any problems at this point (with Van Matre or Cupps)”, Mayer said. “All in all, we have confirmed almost all appointees.”

More than 110 nominees, including 46 made before lawmakers started meeting in January, have been confirmed. Nominations made between legislative sessions must be confirmed within 30 days of the beginning of a session. Nixon withdrew 43 names and renominated them to avoid the deadline. Rejected nominees are barred by the Missouri Constitution from being given the same post in the future.

There are more than 30 nominees, including several made in the last week, that still are to be confirmed.

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